Rose Leaf Ragtime Club September Meeting (9/24/2000)
Reported by Gary Rametta
The final Sunday of September was another sizzler at the Pasadena IHOP
-- both temperature wise and with all the hot music coming out of the back
room. Once again, a near-packed house of guests was entertained by more
than a dozen limber-fingered pianists who filled the air with some great
ragtime, blues, popular tunes, standards, jazz solos, tangos, habaneras,
marches and novelty music. If you weren't able to join us, sorry we missed
you... We hope you can make it to our next get-together on Sunday, October
The IHOP's banquet room was already bustling with activity when Gary
Rametta opened the program with the Scott Joplin/Scott Hayden classic "Sunflower
Slow Drag." Written in 1901, this number is a staple of ragtime repertoire,
reflecting the sounds of Missouri Folk ragtime within the 4-strain structure
that became the apotheosis of the "classic ragtime" genre.
Gary continued with James Scott's "Broadway Rag," published in 1922
by John Stark. This was Scott's last published rag and encapsulates all
his harmonic, melodic and technical signatures. Gary concluded his set
with Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton's masterful "Original Jelly Roll Blues."
Next up was Ron Ross. Ron began his set with a new rag of his own composition,
"Sunday Serendipity Rag." This was the first time Ron's played this piece,
and it was the kind one wished to hear immediately again. I hope Ron obliges
us! Ron followed up with another of his outstanding habaneras, this one
entitled "Mirella." Written about a year ago, it's another Ron Ross gem.
I'm certainly looking forward to a Ron Ross CD containing all of his original
tunes. He does a fantastic job!
Just back from his honeymoon in Hawaii with his new bride Judy, Bob
Pinsker had a real treat in store for us: the music of Eubie Blake, with
a unique twist: A medley of selections from the landmark 1921 Broadway
musical Shuffle Along, which Blake scored along with lyricist Noble Sissle.
Shuffle Along was the first African-American authored show to appear on
Broadway, and it was such a hit that during its run there were three companies
performing it while touring the country simultaneously.
Of the 21 numbers published from the musical, Bob's medley included
10. Bob prefaced his performance by saying his interpretation of the numbers
would be "slightly jazzed up." His playing was upbeat and exact, and over
the 10-minutes or in which Bob played, it was thoroughly enjoyable to hear
the pieces performed as piano solos. I have to confess to not having heard
many of them beforehand, but would like to thank Bob for treating us to
such delightful works. Now, thinking about how I'd like to relive those
moments again, I can't help but remember Gus Wilmorth. Before he passed
on, Gus was ever present at our meetings and taped all the performances.
I would like to see that tradition continued! Anybody else for purchasing
a DAT recorder to keep a recorded history of our meetings?
After Bob played, the club welcomed Annette Givens from Bakersfield.
Even though she's just recently begun playing regularly for us, Annette's
clearly been studying ragtime for awhile—her notebook of selections is
ample and her choices for performance are technically and artistically
challenging. Her first piece was Galen Wilkes' widely popular "Creeks of
Missouri" from 1983. She followed up with another contemporary ragtime
composition, "Roberto Clemente," David Thomas Roberts' 1979 elegy named
for the baseball Hall of Famer and humanitarian. Annette played both pieces
with sincerity and authority. It is clear that her technique is advancing
and that she's deepening her expressiveness at the keyboard.
Following Annette was Yuko Shimazaki. Yuko has developed a fondness
and affinity for early tangos of the "Guardia Vieja" period in Argentina,
which parallels the early years of ragtime here in the U.S. Yuko first
played an exciting tango called "Raspail, The Golden Horse," by G.H. Matos
Rodriguez. This piece has rhythms that seem to gallop, and an overall tone
that's majestic. Her second piece was a lovely and subdued tango entitled
"Velada Criolla," by Domingo Perez. Like many of Joplin's finest rags,
this tango incorporates European classical music influences and marries
them with the folk rhythms of the Americas. Combined with Yuko's playing,
which exudes experience, depth of emotion and formidable technique, the
overall result is genuinely moving.
Nancy Kleier never fails to spark up the proceedings with her humorous
and unique thematic presentations. Her choice for this meeting was a gambling
theme, in which the team of Raggedy Agnes and Raggedy Alfred try to outdo
each other. Though always fun, Nancy's themes aren't just ends in themselves—they're
opportunities to hear rarely played rags. First off was "Queen of Diamonds,"
a hot tango by contemporary composer Galen Wilkes. Nancy followed up with
George Botsford's "Royal Flush," a very satisfying 1911 piece by the composer
of the famous "Black and White Rag." The trials of the Raggedy duo came
to a head with "Sneaky Shuffles," written in 1910 by Henry Lodge.
Following Nancy at the piano was Ruby Fradkin, whose ability increases
each time she plays for us. Ruby got going with "Alouette," then dazzled
us with the first three sections of Joplin's "Cascades" rag. Ruby doesn't
yet have the finger span to handle octave runs, but her flawless playing
of the difficult trio using single notes in the left hand was breathtaking.
The ovation she received was well earned. Next, she performed "Playmate,"
then concluded (accompanied by the audience who sang along) with, appropriately,
"Babyface." As usual, Ruby left everyone smiling and amazed.
The first duets of the afternoon came courtesy of George McClellan and
Lee Roan, who always unearth musical treasures for us. They began with
the 1923 popular hit "Barney Google" by Rose and Conrad, then continued
with a four-handed encore of "Babyface" which gave everyone who didn't
join in the first time a chance to sing along. Their final number was a
delightful rendition of "Toot-Toot-Tootsie (Good-Bye)," made popular by
Al Jolson. Can you name the film this piece was from?
After George and Lee's enjoyable performance, it was discovered that
Ruby Fradkin had just recently celebrated her 10th birthday. The restaurant
gave her an IHOP style cake—3 pancakes with whipped cream and a candle—while
the audience sang "Happy Birthday to Ruby" with Tom Hanforth at the piano.
Tom began his set with "Yes We Have No Bananas." He noted that it came
out around the same time as "Barney Google," which was so popular he used
to sing it in Sunday school, much to the consternation of his teacher.
Tom continued with the 1925 hit "Sleepy Time Gal" and concluded the first
half of the meeting with the famous circus march "Entry of the Gladiators"
by Czech-born composer J. Fucik.
After a short intermission, Gary started the second half with Arthur
Marshall's "Kinklets" rag, then wrapped up his solo with "Scott Joplin's
New Rag" from 1911.
Ron Ross was joined in his second set by Alan "The Great Romanovich"
Bramer, with the two performing "Hello Ma Baby" and "Rockabye Baby With
a Dixie Melody." Both were done in English and Romano-speak. The fearless
Romanovich always leaves everyone stoked with an eerie chuckle.
Bill Mitchell, who had a paying gig earlier in the day, was kind enough
to join us for the second half of the show. Clearly already warmed up,
Bill really cooked on J. Bodewalt Lampe's "Glad Rag." Lampe also wrote
"Creole Belles" in 1900, which was a huge hit and a staple of the John
Philip Sousa band. Bill did a romping version of this, then continued in
grand style with the Charles Hunter favorite "Queen of Love." By request,
Bill played Charles Johnson's "Dill Pickles" to finish off his set.
Bob Pinsker came back up to the piano with James Scott's excellent "Troubador
Rag," then concluded with an awesome piece of novelty piano: "A Blue Streak"
by Roy Bargy from 1922.
Annette Givens returned to the keys with the seldom heard "The Old Boston
Post Road," another charming work by contemporary ragtime composer Galen
Wilkes. She ended her second set with Scott Joplin's ever-classic "Maple
Yuko gave us another taste of Argentinean tangos with a beautiful rendition
of "En La Rambla" (On the Boardwalk) a passionate work composed by Manuel
Aroztegui around 1900.
Nancy wrapped up with a trio of tunes that completed her story of Raggedy
Agnes and Alfred at the gambling table. First was "Pearl of the Harem,
an Oriental Rag" by Detroit composer Harry P. Guy, then "Rubies and Pearls,"
and finally "All the Money" by R. Birch—one of the many pseudonyms prolific
composer Charles L. Johnson published under.
Ruby Fradkin took over the piano with three more crowd-pleasers: "Take
Me Out to the Ballgame," "Tell Me Why," and Leadbelly's "Pick a Bale of
Eric Marchese took time out from his demanding work schedule to join
us in the latter half of the meeting. He played Clarence Woods' bluesy
"Sleepy Hollow Rag," a really fine piece that typifies the Texas brand
of ragtime. (Woods was born in Carthage, MO but lived most of his life
in Texas). Eric closed his abbreviated set with our theme number "Rose
Leaf Rag" another Scott Joplin masterwork.
Bill Mitchell and Gary Rametta concluded the meeting with a duet of,
appropriately enough, "Tickled to Death" by Charles Hunter. By the end
of the September meeting, the crowd was genuinely tickled by all the terrific
music and piano performances that the afternoon brought. If you weren't
able to share in the enjoyment in September, we hope you can make it in
October. It promises to be another great show!
ERIC MARCHESE'S RAGFEST 2000 A SMASHINGSUCCESS IN ORANGE COUNTY
Reported by Nan Bostick
The first ragtime festival ever to be held in Orange County was a total sell-out Saturday, Oct. 7, at Steamers café in Fullerton, CA. In spite of attempts to limit sales, the café was packed, standing room only, and best of all, most were attending their very first ragtime event.
The brainchild of Santa Ana's Eric Marchese, ragtime composer, pianist extraordinaire, and theater critic for the Orange County Register, the RagFest 2000 was co-produced by Fullerton's Friends of Jazz, which helped with one particularly appreciated aspect – the best pianos I've ever had the pleasure of playing at a ragtime festival. But Marchese deserves most of the credit, particularly for the exceptional publicity which proved the reason for so many new faces in the audience.
Performers included Marchese, Tom Brier, Bill Mitchell, and myself, plus two extraordinarily talented ragtime festival newcomers: Terence Alaric (an award-winning theater composer and director from Balboa, CA) and Patrick Aranda (a ragtime, jazz, stride pianist, trombonist, tuba player, singer and music professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, who in my book, was the best entertainer of us all). Mitchell, in addition to playing solo piano, performed with his Albany Nightboat Ragtimers trio, featuring the marvelous banjo talents of Hal Groody and tuba playing of Ray Cadd. The trio was a true treat near the end of the six-hour event, which ended with a half-hour of all performers playing multi-handed ragtime on two pianos on a very small stage. Lots of fun.
Kudos should also go to Terence Love, the gracious owner, and the hard-working staff of Steamers Café at 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, a great place to go to hear live jazz nightly should you find yourself in Orange County.
Plans are already afoot for RagFest 2001. Dates to be announced, but
it looks as if Marchese has created a winner and his RagFest will become
an annual event in Orange County. Bravo!
BRIAN KEENAN TO APPEAR AT OLD TOWN NOVEMBER 12
By Fred Hoeptner
Pianist Brian Keenan will appear in concert at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo on Sunday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m. Keenan, from St. Paul, Minnesota, has never before performed in Southern California although he did appear at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento last year. Keenan is a flawless and expressive performer who demonstrates great sensitivity for the essence of his material and respect for the composer's intent. He has performed many times at the annual Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia and the Rocky Mountain Festival in Boulder. He has two CDs available on Scott Kirby"s Viridiana label and is preparing a third for release next summer.
Keenan's repertoire includes a wide variety of styles within ragtime and related genres. These include classic ragtime (Scott Joplin, James Scott, Joseph Lamb), folk ragtime (Charles Hunter, Brun Campbell, Trebor Tichenor), new ragtime (Jack Rummel, David Thomas Roberts, Frank French, Fred Hoeptner), and Terra Verde (Scott Kirby, Roberts, French). He is also a prolific composer of both ragtime and Terra Verde.
Keenan was born into a musical family in 1971, began piano lessons at age ten, and started playing classic ragtime soon thereafter. He graduated with honors from the University of Colorado where he studied composition, piano and harpsichord. While in Boulder he was introduced to new ragtime upon meeting Frank French, David Thomas Roberts, and Jack Rummel..
Ragtime devotees should not miss this opportunity to hear the genre's
Brad Kay Sunday afternoons, 2-4 p.m., at The Unurban, 3301 W. Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica.
Jerry Rothschild Fri. and Sat., 7-10 p.m. at Curley's Restaurant, corner
willow & Cherry, Signal Hill.
Thurs., 6-9:30 p.m., European Place (German-Italian restaurant), 16258 Whittier Blvd., Corner First Ave.), Whittier. (562) 927-3683
Tichenor Family The Tichenor Family Trio (Trebor Tichenor, Virginia
Tichenor, Marty Eggers) will be appearing at the West Coast Ragtime Festival
and the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival. (See details below
for these events).
OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL SEEKING DONATIONS
Many of you have probably gotten a letter from Old Town Music Hall telling
of their possible relocation to a theater in Torrance. They have presented
hundreds of ragtime concerts on their two beautiful concert grand pianos
and the Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ. If they are successful in relocating,
the concert series will be expanded. In addition to the individual donations
that club members may make, the club is considering a donation to the Relocation
Fund. We will discuss and vote on the matter at the October meeting.
By Susan Erb
So many songs put to words
Lyrics flow, as the music plays
Poetry accompanies the song
The heart sings along
Expression in song
Musical musing . . .
Does more to tell
Of love and loss
And depths within
Without a word, the language of the heart can sing.
Can make you dance
Or march, or tap your feet
Or do a mating call –
And smile about the love-filled life
Or dream about . . .
In a moment a mood is set
By the song in your head –
So play a happy song
Of victory over the grave
Of hope for a new day
And happy endings
Of love come true,
And sufferings gone
And peace replacing war
And violence calmed,
And the beauty in the eye
Of flowers blooming and happy days gone by,
Of nature scenes which bring you joy
And love filled days ahead,
Of children's feet, which once were yours
So let us hear pleasant music to the ear.
You can travel anywhere
With "Musical Musing"
Let your thoughts roam
To the sound in the air
May the melody played bring harmony to the ear
Inspiration in near Rhythm and song
As we move along
On the journey "ANYWHERE',
With MUSICAL MUSING.
DINING AT THE IHOP
The Rose Leaf Club has been lucky in finding a friendly venue at the Pasadena IHOP on Foothill Blvd. The management has been very cooperative in letting us have a room with two pianos. It is an informal, pleasant set-up. Some of us have been ordering food and beverages, which, after all, justifies our continued presence there. May we urge you to save your appetites and have a late lunch or an early dinner while you listen to the (very inexpensive) concert. It is a way of showing our appreciation for the use of their facilities.
We are going to pose a survey question here: "What are your favorite things to order at the IHOP?"
They have an extensive menu. I generally have the roast chicken, which is quite tasty. Yvonne (my wife) enjoys the "veggie burger." There is something for everyone. Bring your own answer to the question to the Oct. meeting, or e-mail your answer to Ron Ross <ronaldro@ pacbell.net>