Photo © Lewis Motisher

Leyland & Aranda in Concert at OTMH

By Bill Mitchell

Sonny Leyland and Patrick Aranda were featured in concert at the Old Town Music Hall Sunday evening, July 31, 2005. Surprise guests Katie Cavera (banjo) and C. J. Sams (tuba) joined the two pianists for an exciting jam near the end of the program.

Sonny and Pat got things underway with a strutting stride version of "Limehouse Blues." "Old Fashioned Love," a medium-tempo James P. Johnson piece, followed. Pat suggested that they play "Royal Garden Blues," and Sonny replied, "That would be OK." This Dixieland warhorse proved a fine vehicle for their improvised collaboration.

Pat retired from the stage for a set of Sonny's blues and boogie solo work. He opened with a vocal on "How Long Blues," a classic of the genre, and then played an eight-to-the-bar version of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles." He introduced a ragtime number next, "Blame It on the Blues," by Charles Cooke. To wind up his set he improvised a fast boogie on a "Honky Tonk Train" bass figure.

It was Pat's turn to solo, and he began with a breathtaking, virtuosic performance of Jelly Roll Morton's furious "Fingerbuster." Changing the pace, he went into a Fats Waller mode on "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie." He then played three originals. "Tequila Shot" was a tango. "Sunday Evening at the Fox" commemorated a pleasant after-hours session at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival. (The Fox was the name of a local hotel.) 'Russian Dragon  a Fire-breathing Rag" incorporated some themes from Tchaikovsky.

Sonny rejoined Pat to wind up the first act with "That Teasin' Rag," a Joe Jordan number that was "borrowed" by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in their recording of "Original Dixieland One-step."

After intermission, the two pianists gave "Girl of My Dreams" a workout, and then Sonny provided some solos, beginning with W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues," including the vocal. "Argyle Avenue Breakdown" was a Leyland original, a vigorous boogie.

At this point Pat introduced Katie Cavera and C. J. Sams. With Pat, they comprise 3/4ths of the Firehouse Stompers rhythm section. (This Dixieland band was to appear at OTMH the following Sunday evening.) The trio played the James Scott classic, "Grace and Beauty."

To wind up the evening, Sonny joined Pat, Katie, and C. J. for rousing performances of "Running Wild," "Original Rags," and "Sweet Georgia Brown."

John T. Carney's Original Rags for Download

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