Features and Reviews
Ragtime Infiltrates 2002 San Diego Jazz Festival
By Bill Mitchell
The 23rd Annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival at the Town & Country Hotel featured over 30 bands, covering a great many styles of music, from the roots of jazz to swing. Here and there ragtime raised its syncopated head. Since your editor was a participant (nine sets with the New Orleans Wanderers and one solo piano set over four days), he was able to catch only a limited number of the participating groups and soloists. Therefore, the following few remarks can only amount to spotty coverage of all that was offered.
During their sets, some of the bands featured the pianist on a solo rag with rhythm accompaniment to add variety (and give the horn players a few moments of rest). The Devil Mountain Jazz Band made good use of Virginia Tichenor's ragabilities. In fact they devoted one entire set to ragtime, both instrumental and solo, with Virginia giving excellent commentary and performing brilliantly on such gems as "Grace and Beauty" and "Cole Smoak." The Uptown Lowdown band from Seattle featured the fine pianist Rose Marie Barr on crisp and masterful rag renditions. Paul Asaro of the Independence Hall Jazz Band was featured on a Jelly Roll Morton number or two. The New Orleans Wanderers typically included a piano rag in each set.
The Pianorama included several pianists with ragtime slant predilections. Paul Asaro was unsurpassed in the stride idiom. Les Deutsch (Night Blooming Jazzmen) included some classic rags. Marty Eggers and Virginia Tichenor each had a solo set. On Virginia's, her husband, Marty Eggers, backed her up on string bass. Virginia had two extra sets as a featured soloist. Another featured soloist was Carl "Sonny" Leyland, a powerful boogie woogie and blues specialist who occasionally included a rag. Sonny played seven solo sets in addition to the Pianorama spot. Your editor's set was primarily ragtime.