Features and Reviews
Jeanne Ingram at OTMH, 7/30/2000
By Bill Mitchell
Versatile pianist Jeanne Ingram was the featured performer in concert at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo the last Sunday evening in July. Her program included generous servings of ragtime, waltzes, for trots, a tango, some old pop songs--a nice mix--beginning with the jolly folk rag classic, "Tickled to Death," by Charles Hunter. This was followed by one of the most haunting and bittersweet numbers in the literature of ragtime, "Texas Fox Trot," by David Guion. Turning to some early 20th century popular standards, Ms. Ingram played a medley of "All that I Ask of You Is Love," "When You Were Sweet Sixteen," "There's a Girl in the Heart of Maryland," and "Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay." "Brejeiro," a tango by the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, provided a change of pace. (There seems to be a Nazareth revival—or is it discovery?—in progress, championed by advocates like Frank French, Scott Kirby, et al.) "Niantic By the Sea," by the prolific contemporary ragtime composer Galen Wilkes, was given a thoughtful interpretation by Ms. Ingram. "Fluffy Ruffles" was the cutesy title of her next number, a 1909 rag by Duane Crabb. The seldom-heard "Kansas City Blues" by Euday Bowman, composer of "Twelfth Street Rag," was a rag-tinged blues that added yet more variety to the evening.
Organist Bill Field manned the console of the Mighty Wurlitzer to accompany Jeanne on some familiar songs: "California, Here I Come," "Melody of Love," "Baby Face" and "For Me and My Gal." Bill Coffman joined them on the Steinway for a pre-intermission finale, "For Me and My Gal."
After intermission Jeanne returned to the Bosendorfer to play "Heliotrope Bouquet," by Louis Chauvin and Scott Joplin. She then played an arrangement of Eubie Blake's classic popular song, "Memories of You."
(I remember Eubie playing it in concert at the OTMH on the very same piano back in the 1970s.) Jeanne followed this with an oldie but goodie from 1921, "I'm Nobody's Baby." She next came up with a title we had never heard of, "Monkey Rag," an item her sister discovered in a stack of old sheet music in a Colorado antique shop. "Monkey Rag" (1911) was composed by Chris Smith, whose "Ballin' the Jack" was very popular. Ballad time again with "When You're Away," a waltz by Victor Herbert's 1917 musical, "The Only Girl." Having done "Kansas City Blues" before intermission, Jeanne gave equal time to "Kansas City Rag," one of James Scott's brilliant pieces. Then came Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano," and the early Walter Donaldson hit from 1919, "How Ya Gonna Keep ?x2018;Em Down on the Farm?" Bill Coffman on the Steinway joined Jeanne for a duet rendition of Joplin's "Weeping Willow."
At this point Bill Coffman let Jeanne take a rest while he took a few minutes to inform the audience of recent developments concerning the fate of the OTMH. With the rent tripled, it will no longer be feasible to remain in the location they have occupied for three decades in El Segundo. That's the bad news. The good news is that there is a larger theater available in Torrance with several advantages, and that plans are afoot for this change of venue in the foreseeable future.
Then followed a short impromptu segment. At intermission Bill C. asked your reviewer if he would join him and Bill Field on a few trio numbers. Reviewer said yes, and we agreed on three standards: "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love." So with Coffman on Steinway, Field on Wurlitzer, and Mitchell on Bosendorfer, we winged it for a short interlude.
For the finale there was another game of musical chairs, this time with Coffman on Wurlitzer, Ingram on Bosendorfer, and Mitchell on Steinway. The evening ended with thunderous renditions of "Bohemia" and "Maple Leaf Rag," bells and whistles and all.
Those of you that have heard Jeanne Ingram play know that she is a highly accomplished pianist who plays with confidence, accuracy, and sensitivity of expression. She introduced her numbers with concisely prepared remarks about the composers and the pieces chosen. This classy lady gave a fine performance.