Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club August Meeting (8/26/2001)

Reported by Gary Rametta

Greetings. We are all shocked and saddened by the horrifying events of September 11 in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of innocent victims of these atrocities, including those who sacrificed their lives while rescuing others, and all the families and loved ones who are left in a grieving void.

Our upcoming meeting will still be held on September 30th, but in addition to memorializing our founder, Phil Schmidt, who passed away two years ago this September, we will also remember those who lost their lives in the September 11th terrorist attack.

As our president stated, we citizens are compelled to stand together with firm resolve to cherish, protect and realize the ideals that make us a great people and a great nation. In this regard, it is my opinion that ragtime music is distinctly American—as much as or more than any other form of artistic expression. Ragtime music embodies the qualities and ideals of our country and our people. And our club's continuing celebration of it serves to reaffirm and strengthen those qualities and ideals.

The August meeting marked the sixth anniversary of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club and, once again, drew a full house.

Yuko Shimazaki (piano) and Phil Cannon (guitar/banjo) started off the birthday celebration with Scott Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag."

Bill Mitchell followed, taking up the Joplin cue with "Stoptime Rag," one of the only rags in which the composer indicated the tempo as "fast or slow." Bill continued with two pieces by New Yorker Ford Dabney, "Porto Rico" and "Haytian Rag."

Nancy Kleier sat down to perform Dick Zimmerman's "Lost and Found Rag," followed by Artie Matthew's "Pastime Rag No. 5" and Gil Lieby's "Anathema Blues."

Next was Ruby Fradkin, who played Joplin's "The Cascades," then "Tom Dooley."

Bob Pinsker followed, revisiting Joplin with the seldom-heard "Searchlight Rag." Next was "Phantom Fingers," a 1934 novelty piece by British composer Jack Wilson. Bob's final selection was of historical interest—he explained that a photo long believed to be of Scott Joplin's piano also showed a leaf of sheet of music on the console. Though the photo's been around for a long time, no one thought to transcribe the notated music. A couple of years ago, Reginald Robinson of Chicago did the honors. It's about four or five bars of a genuine Joplin composition. Bob played the abbreviated work for us.

Following Bob was the duo of George McClellan and Lee Roan, who combined on two popular duets from the Golden Age, "Whispering" and "Ida."

Ron Ross performed next, first leading us in a sing-along of the ode he wrote in honor of our club, "The Rose Leaf Way." Next he played his delightful "Sunday Serendipity," another rag written with a tip of the cap to the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club.

Guitarist/Banjoist Phil Cannon strapped his axe on and came up to the mike to give us amazingly played renditions of two Joseph Lamb classics, "Top Liner Rag" and "Contentment Rag."

Gary Rametta took us to the break with some more great Joseph Lamb, "Ragtime Reverie."

After everyone sang "Happy Birthday" and treated their sweet tooth with cake, Bob Ross soloed on two originals, first "Slow and Easy," which he said came to him after listening to Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," then an unnamed rag with a working title of "I Hope I Make It." With its unexpected turnarounds and two or three false endings, the piece should've perhaps been entitled "Deceptive Rag."

Ruby Fradkin returned for a second set with the Joplin/Marshall favorite "Swipesy Cakewalk," then the popular hit from way back when, "Babyface."

Stan Long next sat at the keys, giving us the Charles L. Johnson classic "Dill Pickles" as well as George Cobb's "Russian Rag," a ragged reinvention of Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in C Sharp Minor."

Following Stan was Yuko Shimazaki, this time soloing on a delicate, singing version of Joplin's great "Nonpareil" rag.

Next up was newcomer Craig Reisler, an excellent pianist who's an enthusiast of the stride, jazz and popular standards genres. Craig played an original composition he wrote on spec for a theatre musical. It boasted a sophisticated harmonic texture and definitely had the "show tune" feel down pat. His next selection was the Noel Gray classic "Me and My Girl."

Brenda Brubaker made her second appearance at the Rose Leaf club, this time giving us an enjoyable rendition of Eubie Blake's "Bugle Call Rag."

Following Brenda was Les Soper, first playing the "Turtle Boogie," which was recorded by Disneyland pianist Rod Miller and his prodigy on their "Four-Hands Piano" CD. Next, Les played Harlem stride pianist Luckey Robert's "Junk Man Rag."

As our sixth anniversary meeting hit the home stretch, we welcomed back pianists Bill Mitchell and Nancy Kleier, plus Les Soper on washboard and Phil Cannon on guitar/banjo, in a rollicking version of "Maple Leaf Rag."

Bob Pinsker then returned to the keys with an outstanding solo effort on Jimmy Blythe's "Jimmy Blues."

Next, Gary Rametta and Bill Mitchell combined on two Jelly Roll Morton classics, "Original Jelly Roll Blues" and "Grandpa's Spells," with Bill comping on the first number and Gary on the second.

As the seats began emptying out, Bob Pinsker came back to flex his pianistic muscles on James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout." A fine effort on an exceedingly difficult piece, and one I trust Bob will perform again, the next time to a full house.

We hope to see you this coming Sunday.

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