Rose Leaf Ragtime Club May Meeting (5/29/2005)
Our May meeting coincided with the Memorial Day weekend and Sacramento Jazz Festival. In general, attendance on these dates is negligibly affected. That was the case in May, when over 45 guests showed up at the IHOP. However, something unusual did occur: for the first time I can recall since joining the club nine years ago, we had a near-scarcity of players. All was not lost, though. With the help of a few club veterans, one new performer, and a special guest brought by Yuko Shimazaki, we managed to fill out the program with a nice variety of rags, standards, Americana and even some haute couture.
Gary Rametta opened the proceedings with David Thomas Roberts' "Camille," a lovely and expansive slow drag from the late-1970s. Next was the contemporary rag classic "Roberto Clemente" by the same composer.
Phil Cannon strapped on his six-string banjo and treated us to three ragtime masterpieces from Scott Joplin: "Weeping Willow," "Scott Joplin's New Rag" and "Ragtime Dance." These compositions show three completely different approaches to ragtime from the pen of Mr. Joplin. "Weeping Willow" is sweet and touching, "New Rag" is an ambitious mix of European classical and American influences, and "Ragtime Dance" is a foot-stomping dance number.
Gary continued with another Joplin gem, "Sugar Cane," published in 1908 after the composer cut his ties with Missouri publisher John Stark and moved to New York.
Next was Yuko Shimazaki with special guest Julliena Okah, a professional violinist from New York. Yuko led the duet in a piano/violin rendition of Joplin's "Augustan Club Waltzes." Next was an unexpected surprise, a stirring duet on the Franz Schubert devotional "Ave Maria." Julliena continued with a solo medley of American patriotic songs in celebration of her recent U.S. citizenship.
Gary and Phil returned for piano/banjo duet on Joplin's great "Peacherine."
Fred Hoeptner offered two solos, first Adaline Shepard's 1906 ragtime oddity "Pickles and Peppers," followed by the first James Scott rag of the day, "Grace and Beauty" from 1909.
We welcomed a new performer, Jonathan Kelley, an anesthesiologist from nearby Sierra Madre. Dr. Kelley performed impressively on Joplin's stirring "Wall Street Rag" from 1909.
Frank Sano brought us to the end of the first half of the musicale with excellent playing on some ragtime era and early jazz standards, "Hello My Baby," Irving Berlin's "Mandy" and Cy Coben's "Old Piano Roll Blues." He finished up with a 1919 original by Oleg Alexander Keersof called "Red Bear Rag." Keersof was a Ukrainian who studied at Columbia and was affiliated with Irving Berlin. He wrote two other rags, "Birch Tree" and "Black River."
After a brief intermission, we began the second-half of the meeting with Yuko on piano and Julliena on violin. An interesting and enjoyable set was presented, starting off with a beautiful Argentinean tango from the late 1890's, "Independencia" by Alfredo Bevilacqua. Next was a lovely classical duet on "Serenade" from Franz Schubert's Songs Without Words.
Ms. Okah continued on solo violin with a medley of Eastern European "gypsy" music. She finished up with some down-home American-style fiddlin' and pickin' on the 1939 bluegrass classic "Orange Blossom Special," complete with simulated train whistle, bell and locomotive sounds. It was a definite crowd-pleaser; Ms. Okah finished to enthusiastic applause.
Phil returned for some picking and strumming of his own, entertaining us with two more great rags, Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia" and Luckey Roberts' "Junkman Rag."
Jonathan returned to the keys and performed splendidly on Joplin's "Solace."
Frank and Phil delivered pleasing piano/banjo duets on some early jazz favorites, "I'm Confessin'," "Somebody Loves Me" and "Rose of Washington Square."
Gary returned to the piano with two more David Thomas Roberts solos: "Pinelands Memoir" and "For Kansas City." Fred took us to meeting's end with his newest composition, "Marching Through Town."
We adjourned with a note that our June meeting (on the 26th) will feature two special guests: the prodigiously talented Tom Brier, and one of our faves, Nan Bostick.
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