Features and Reviews
Dean Mora at Old Town Music Hall, 4/30/2000
By Lee Roan
The first half of Dean Mora's solo concert consisted of a variety of piano music, which bypassed so-called "classic" and popular ragtime in favor of some overlooked material from pre-ragtime and the post-ragtime, novelty piano eras.
He opened with the rousing "Dawn of the Century March," by E. T. Paull, whose sheet music is prized by collectors for its florid art work. "Levee Revels," by William Christopher O'Hare, was revealed to be a haunting piece from 1898. "Doc Brown's Cake Walk" was an early effort by the prolific Kansas City composer, Charles L. Johnson. "Live Wires Rag" was by Adaline Shepard, composer of the better-known "Pickles and Peppers."
Leaping forward to the 1920s, Mora played a handful of Zez Confrey numbers, including "Charleston Chuckles," "Novelette," "Giddy Diddy," and "Lullaby from Mars." He concluded the first half of his concert with "Jack Frost Gallop," by George Warren.
Mora played all of the above on the fabulous Bosendorfer grand piano...on some of these pieces his hands and fingers were a blur -- he must have been a hummingbird in a past life!! And he was sick (as in ill) to boot! Zez Confrey isn't exactly noted for composing slow, easy-to-play numbers...
Following the piano concert, and after a 15-minute recess, he returned to play the Wurlitzer organ ... first, a medley of several familiar tunes which none of us, including Dean, could recall all their names, but they sounded great.
An extra surprise treat was the showing of a Laurel and Hardy silent film with Dean playing the accompaniment on the Wurlitzer, complete with sound effects, and beautifully in sync with the movie. All by ear, no music score. It was hard to both listen to the music and to follow the movie plot. My little brain has only one track. The movie was "Finishing Touch," about a pair (L. & H.) commissioned to complete a house that was under construction. As you can guess, it ended up being totally destroyed.
"Dean closed the performance by playing "El Segundo by the Sea," and dedicating it to the mayor of El Segundo, who was in the audience."
I'd highly recommend attendance at any future Dean Mora concerts. He makes interesting commentaries about the numbers he plays, and throws in some good humor with them. He's a good entertainer and excellent performer.
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