Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

DECEMBER, 2005

NUMBER 116

Rose Leaf Ragtime Club November Meeting (11/27/2005)

Reported by Gary Rametta


A relatively small but loyal and supportive group of 35 ragtimers joined us for the November 2005 meeting. Instead of a special guest artist to knock our socks off, we got to enjoy the work of our resident masters. Bill Mitchell, Ron Ross, Nancy Kleier and Bill Coleman in particular played wonderfully.

Prior to getting started with the music, we handled a few brief business items, including rescheduling our December meeting (which would have fallen on the 25th) to the following Sunday, January 1st. As January 1 falls on a Sunday, there will be no Rose Parade that day, and the Rose Bowl game won't take place until a few days later, so no conflicts are foreseen. A motion was made and was carried to move the December meeting to the following Sunday. This won't affect our regularly-scheduled January meeting that will take place on the 29th.

We also discussed issues pertaining to our lending library. John Tulley does a yeoman's job keeping it up and we definitely appreciate his efforts. Given our fairly liberal lending policy (the honor system), accurately tracking the status of every CD and cassette can be difficult. In this regard, we would like to get the word out to all members to return any outstanding items as soon as possible – preferably within one month after checkout. If that's not possible, it would be appreciated if you could keep the club updated as to the items still in your possession and when we might expect to receive them back.

After these business items were discussed, Gary Rametta and Bill Mitchell opened with Scott Joplin and Scott Hayden's "Something Doing," then Joplin's "Peacherine" from 1901.

Bill then soloed on a nicely varied trio of tunes, first Luckey Roberts' "Music Box Rag" from 1914, then Charles Hunter's Tennessee folk rag "Possum 'n Taters" from 1901. He finished off a great set with Abe Oldman's "Wintergarden Rag."

Gary came back to solo on Joplin's "Sugar Cane," from 1908, then the first two sections of William Bolcom's "Graceful Ghost" from 1971.

Ron Ross played his excellent "Digital Rag," ("digital" because it's played with one's digits or fingers), then moved to his more recent "Cloudy" ragtime waltz, which has an especially nice second strain that can send a listener floating away. He finished his first set with an original piano/vocal number called "The All-Inclusive Tour," written in 1981 but recently revised.

Thirteen year-old Vincent Johnson continued his improvement by putting his ragtime chops to bear on "Jingle Bells" and "Maple Leaf Rag." Keep 'em coming, Vincent; you're doing really well!

Nancy Kleier played a very sharp set of Turkey-related tunes starting with "Fuss and Feathers," a folksy 1909 piece by J.C. Halls. Next was another rarity, "Butcher Rag," a 1914 work by Louis Mentel. Despite its foreboding name, it was a very pretty piece. Nancy's third and final number was Fred Heltman's "Chewin' the Rag" from 1912.

Gary brought the first half of the meeting home with David Thomas Roberts' "Roberto Clemente."

For our intermission entertainment, Bill Coleman did an excellent job on an extended medley of standards and holiday tunes, including "At a Georgia Camp Meeting," "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas," "Silver Bells," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "All I do is Dream of You," "White Christmas," "The Way We Were," "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time," "Around the World in 80 Days," "April in Portugal," "Lisbon Antigua," "Estrellita," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Elmer's Tune," "There's a Tavern in Town," "O' Dem Golden Slippers," "Vienna, City of My Dreams" and "As Time Goes By."

Gary closed the break with another David Thomas Roberts composition, "Camille," a lyrical slow drag.

Bill Mitchell kick-started round two of the meeting with Jelly Roll Morton's first composition, "New Orleans Joys," (a.k.a. New Orleans Blues). He continued with some more choice Jelly Roll on "Wildman Blues," and for the coup de grace, "The Pearls." As usual, Bill's grasp of Morton's swing is right on the money, and his improvisations are first rate as well.

Ron Ross played a trio of originals all on request, first his lovely and evocative habanera "Mirella," then "Obadiah's Jumpsuit," followed by his ever-popular "Studio Sensation."

Nancy continued her Thanksgiving theme with some more standard turkey fare: "Sweet Potatoes, " by Justin Ringleaven, 1906. A player could never guess the intended tempo by relying on the sheet music to this piece; it's marked "A Slow Drag," "March and Two Step," and "Quite Slow" all at the same time! Hilarious.

Next, Nancy brought her outstanding sight-reading skills to "Paprika: Hot Stuff March Two Step" from 1909 by Luella Lockwood Moore. She finished off another crowd-pleasing set with a lively rag from 1914 called "Pepper" – I didn't get the composer's name.

Gary and Bill returned for a duet on Joplin's "Original Rags," from 1899. Bill stayed on to solo, honoring a request of Jelly Roll Morton's "Winin' Boy Blues," sans Morton's racy lyrics. He continued with a crisply played gem, James Scott's "Grace and Beauty," then honored another request with his own "Musty Rag," a clever stitching together of phrases from Erroll Gardner's "Misty" and May Aufderheide's "Dusty Rag."

Nancy came back for a Thanksgiving finisher, "Spuds, a Novelty March" written by Lawrence O'Connor in 1907.

Ron Ross put the bookends on a thoroughly enjoyable meeting with his exquisite "Joplinesque, A Gringo Tango."


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