Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

APRIL, 2003


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club March Meeting (3/30/2003)

Reported by Fred Hoeptner

Gary Rametta being unable to attend due to a rush work project, Ron Ross hosted the meeting attended by about 40 ragophiles while I took notes. All were saddened by his announcement of the death of Bill Mintz, a ragtime devotee and regular club attendee. Ron dedicated the performance of his composition "Retro Rag," one of Bill's favorites, to his memory with Phil Cannon accompanying on the banjo guitar. Ron followed with a sensitive performance of James Scott's "Ragtime Oriole."

Citing the dearth of early-arriving pianists, Ron suggested that each performer play three tunes. Fifteen-year-old Andrew Barrett played Paul Pratt's masterpiece "Springtime Rag," his own composition "Frequent Flyer Rag," which he had premiered at the Orange County Ragtime Society, and "Scott Joplin's New Rag," performed like a pro and eliciting "wows." "Frequent Flyer" has some catchy melodies and presages a fine future for Andrew as a composer.

I performed my compositions, "Dalliance" and "Aura of Indigo," and James Scott's "Victory Rag," commemorating the end of World War I. Always entertaining, Stan Long contributed his arrangement of the Indian Intermezzo "Indian Summer," composed by Charles N. Daniels as Neil Moret, in which he included snatches of other tunes, including "Old Folks at Home." Commenting that he was beating Ruby to the draw, he continued with "Swipesy Cakewalk" and concluded with an instrumental version of "Look What They've Done to My Song."

Ruby Fradkin, whose repertoire is burgeoning by leaps and bounds, impeccably performed Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag" with an unusual blues introduction, Joplin's "Elite Syncopations," and Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind." She styled the two Joplin rags with a heavy measure of swing and "Georgia" with many bluesy embellishments, runs, and rich alternate chords.

Phil Cannon treated us to a trio of Joplin rags performed on the guitar banjo: "Peacherine," "Leola," and "Easy Winners," the last in duet with Andrew on the piano. Les Soper, devotee of contemporary as well as classic ragtime, followed with Hal Isbitz's "Opalescence," Scott's "Ragtime Betty," and Glenn Jenks' contemporary classic,"Sosua," inspired by a pristine beach in the Dominican Republic. Les included all the nuances, such as lavish dynamics and rubato, that earmark a truly professional performance. Bill Mitchell, arriving following a paid engagement, contributed a repeat of Joplin's "Easy Winners" (which it surely deserves) and Ford Dabney's Latin-tinged "Porto Rico."

Following the break, Ron Ross returned with his newest composition, "Acrosonic Rag." Stan Long played Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," seemingly seldom played lately, and the 1920s pop tune, "Coney Island Washboard," with vocal and kazoo solo no less. Andrew Barrett returned to play two versions of Charlie Straight's "Hot Hands" from 1916. Straight--pianist, composer, and arranger of pop tunes and rags--as musical director of the Imperial Player Roll Company produced many piano rolls that Andrew had studied stylistically. First he played the tune as written followed by his interpretation of the way it would have sounded from the roll. He followed with Straight's last published rag (1918) "Blue Grass Rag."

Les Soper returned to play a tune that he described as years ahead of its time, Irwin P. Leclere's "Triangle Jazz Blues" from 1917. He followed with a charming contemporary composition of Swiss ragtimer and devotee of the 1950s honky-tonk ragtime style Martin Jaeger, "Baroque Rag." Bill Mitchell and Phil Cannon duetted on a pair of Joe Lamb compositions,"Patricia Rag" and "Bohemia Rag," to close another successful ragtime session. See you in April!

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