Rose Leaf Ragtime Club October Meeting (10/31/2004)
The October, 2004 meeting of the Pasadena Rose Leaf Ragtime Club featured two new performers, a wide variety of rags and early jazz—some related to the Halloween occasion, some not—and more than 30 of our loyal and valued members to share the fun with. It was, if I might say, a frightfully good show.
Gary Rametta opened the meeting Duke Ellington's ethereal "Reflections in D," which he first heard on a Bill Evans recording (New Conversations) about 26 years ago. The melody and harmonies are so lovely that, as Evans recalled in a radio broadcast with jazz pianist Marian McPartland, he saw no need to alter them in his recording. The tune was first recorded by Duke in the early 1950s, along with several other priceless piano gems, compiled and released under the title of Piano Reflections. It is still available on CD.
In keeping with the autumnal mood of the season, Gary played Eastwood Lane's "Legend of Lonesome Lake," from the novelty-era composer's piano suite, Adirondack Sketches, published in 1922.
Next, five-year-old Kaden Long, grandson of club member and performer Stan Long, made his debut appearance. Kaden was smartly attired in coat and tie as he played four-hand piano with his grandpa on Joplin's "The Entertainer." Kaden employed both hands, his right playing the melody and his left employing basic counterpoint. It was reminiscent of Ruby Fradkin's first appearance at our club when, like Kaden, her legs barely dangled off the end of the piano bench. Like Ruby, Kaden plays with an instinctive rhythmic bounce; that definitely bodes well for his future as a ragtime pianist!
Bill Mitchell came up for some solos, first "Some Pumpkins," a march by Ed Kuhn, then Julius Lenzberg's "That Haunting Rag." For his finale he chose Max Hoffman's "Yankee Land" from 1904.
Ron Ross played his own "Sutter Creek Rag," and Joseph Lamb's "Sensation."
Phil Cannon strapped on his guitar/banjo and treated us to some fine soloing on Joplin's "Sugar Cane" and Lamb's "Ethiopia."
Stan Long returned for a solo, his "Haunting Accident" rag, a hard-driving number featuring a killer #9 chord and a sound that, while not derivative, has much in common with some of Trebor Tichenor's fine folk rags. Kaden then came back up to join Stan on two short numbers, first "Grim-Grinning Ghost," the theme from Disney's Haunted Mansion, then "Step on the Cat."
A new performer, Mark Sachnoff, was introduced. Mark was a longtime member of the former Maple Leaf Club but this was his first visit with the Rose Leaf folks. He then sat down and delivered some of the best and most exciting playing of the day, starting with his own arrangement of "St. Louis Blues," featuring a blues lick that has appeared in many pieces, but the one that came to my mind was Van Morrison's "Blue Money." Next was a testy version of "Dill Pickles," followed by a terrific rendering of Teddy Wilson's "China Boy" that he transcribed from a J. Lawrence Cook piano roll.
Andrew Barrett came up with a "spooky set" consistent with the occasion. First was "The Phantom Rag," a 1911 piece by Al Brown and Sol "Violinsky" Ginsberg. He followed up with his first-ever piano/vocal for the club, Walter Donaldson's humorous "'Taint No Sin to Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones" from 1929. To close his set, he chose "Harem Scarem Rag" by George Lem Trombley.
Nancy Kleier closed out the first half of the meeting with "Slivers," a 1907 by ragtime writer and professional clown Harry Cook. Next was George L. Cobb's "The Midnight Trot," featuring an unusual bass line and an overall dark, moody sound. She finished off with Texan Clarence Woods' great "Sleepy Hollow Rag."
During the entr'acte, Yuko Shimazaki continued with some fine piano music, performing Frederic Chopin's posthumous "Nocturne in E minor," recently featured in the Academy award-winning movie "The Pianist."
Bill Coleman took us through the remainder of the intermission with a medley of cakewalks, standards and pop tunes.
Gary started the second half of the meeting with Bix Beiderbecke's "In The Dark," followed by Kaden and Stan Long playing four-hands piano on "Zipadee-Doo-Dah," "Hong Kong" and "Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho (a pirate's life for me)."
Fred Hoeptner soloed on his lovely "Idyll of Autumn," then James Scott's "Grace and Beauty," followed by Henry Lodge's "Red Pepper."
Bill Mitchell returned to the keys with three strong solos, first Joseph Lamb's "American Beauty," then James Scott's "Pegasus" and Frank French's "Belle of Louisville."
Robbie Gennet was next with "When Did You Leave Heaven?" a Richard Whiting pop song from the 1936 film Sing, Baby, Sing with Alice Faye. Robbie sang and accompanied himself on this one. He followed up with an original, "Gotta, Gotta Get Back Home," a busy boogie.
Ron Ross returned to the Yamaha upright with "Acrosonic Rag," one of his originals.
For his second set, Andrew played "My Pet," by Zez Confrey. This 1921 piece was Confrey's first contribution to what came to be known as Novelty Ragtime. In keeping with the Halloween theme, which ran through the meeting, Andrew also played Ford Dabney's "Oh! You Devil."
Nancy Kleier offered up another Confrey tune, "Greenwich Witch." Like "My Pet," this was from 1921, a year in which Confrey published several compositions.?Nancy?added another spooky title?with "That Demon Rag," (1912) by Russell Smith.
Phil Cannon and Fred Hoeptner?concluded the meeting with two James Scott numbers, "Frog Legs," a 1906 hit, and "Victory Rag," published in 1921, when the ragtime era was fast fading to be replaced by the jazz age.
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