Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

FEBRUARY, 2003

NUMBER 82

Rose Leaf Ragtime Club January Meeting (1/26/2003)

Reported by Gary Rametta


We kicked off 2003 with over three hours of strong performances from 10 different musicians. Even though the meeting fell on Super Bowl Sunday, that didn't keep the 40-plus guests and players in attendance from enjoying a delightfully syncopated afternoon of music.

As the guests filled in the IHOP banquet room, Ron Ross warmed up on some new tunes, followed by Yuko Shimazaki floating over the keys on Chopin's Nocturne #1.

After a brief welcome, Gary Rametta played Joplin's "Ragtime Dance" and "Original Rags," then Fred Hoeptner's "Dalliance." Ron Ross followed, premiering his latest work called "Acrosonic Rag," named after his piano. He finished up with another original, a piano/vocal comedy song called "The Florida Sun."

The surprise artist of the day was Nile Frank, a Los Angeles native who resides in Nashville, TN. Nile's latest CD is called "Raggin' Around," and it's a splendid collection of mostly original tunes that showcase his abilities as a composer and player. He played two numbers off the CD, "Tigerwood Rag" and "Hubdeer Rag." Both were creatively structured and great modern-day excursions into the ragtime form.

Phil Cannon brought a six-string acoustic guitar with him, and treated us to a medley of Scott Joplin/Scott Hayden collaborations. The first two were "Sunflower Slow Drag" and "Something Doing," probably the most popular of their four efforts together.

Pasadena's "Little 'Ol Ragtime Lady" Nancy Kleier then played Snyder's 1908 "Wild Cherries Rag" by request, and followed up with Gil Lieby's "The Trophy Rag" from 1966. It seemed more than appropriate for the occasion.

Fifteen year-old Andrew Barrett confidently strode up and played Tom Turpin's landmark "Harlem Rag" from 1897. Andrew said it was the first rag he learned, and correctly noted that it was the first rag published by a black composer. He continued with "Blue Goose Rag," a 1916 Charles Johnson piece written under one of his pseudonyms "Raymond Birch." Andrew explained that the fierce competition among the publishing houses in those days spurred many of the small one-man firms to write under more than one nom de plume, thereby giving the impression that they had a large roster of talent.

Next, Stan Long played a Charles Daniels piece from 1898 called "Marjorie." With no sheet music by which to learn it, he said his rendition was based on a two-piano version he heard off a CD. He continued with his own arrangements of Joplin's "Magnetic" and "Pine Apple" rags.

Les Soper was snappily attired in vest and derby hat. His first piece was Joplin's great "Fig Leaf Rag," one of the composer's best. Les' playing was wonderful as well. Next was Imogene Gillis' 1907 favorite "Red Peppers," which Les said he was motivated to learn after hearing Tony Caramia's recording of it. To close out his set, Les chose Glenn Jenks' beautiful "Elegiac" from 1986, a number Les performs with grace and expressiveness.

Ruby Fradkin took over the keys, warming up with some blues and boogie-inspired runs, figures and phrases. She then delved into a nice blue arrangement of "Zippity Doo Dah," followed by a decidedly swinging version of Arthur Marshall and Scott Joplin's "Swipsey Cakewalk," and finished with her own arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

We headed to the break with Bill Coleman soloing on a host of cakewalks, standards and popular tunes from the gilded age.

Gary Rametta began the second half of the meeting with James Scott's pretty "Rag Sentimental." Phil Cannon then came back up to perform a medley of the remaining two Joplin/Hayden collaborations, "Felicity Rag" and "Kismet Rag," from 1911 and 1913, respectively. Although these two were published about 10 years after the first, Phil said it is more than likely they were penned at about the same time. On a personal note, even though they're not as well known as "Sunflower" and "Something Doing," both are classic rags in the best sense. More than anything, they showcase Hayden's abilities as a terrific ragtime composer and pianist in his own right.

Andrew Barrett's second set consisted of Joseph Daly's seldom-played "Pitter-Patter Rag" and his person favorite, Paul Pratt's "Hot House Rag." The former is from the gentleman who published Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag" in 1907. The Pratt composition is an advanced rag that, although written in 1914, anticipated the Novelty rag era.

Les Soper returned to the keys with exciting renditions of Luckey Roberts' "Junkman Rag" from 1913 and James Scott's "Pegasus" from about 1920.

Ruby put the bookends on another joyous afternoon of romping ragtime with a self-composed effort untitled as yet but for the record we'll call "I Made This Up." It had a great pop sound to it, and sounds like it's a song waiting for a lyric. The talented Miss Fradkin concluded with the popular classic "Georgia."

As noted here and in the previous newsletter, the crowds have been picking up again and the performances have been strong. We hope to see you at an upcoming meeting to share some good times with us. Our next get-together is next Sunday, February 23rd at 2:30 PM.


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