Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

MARCH, 2006


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club February Meeting (2/26/2006)

Reported by Gary Rametta

Our February meeting brought over 40 guests and players together. An excellent turnout considering the fact that there was no featured guest…just the talents of our good ole "regulars." Most of the guests even stayed the length of the meeting, which extended 15 minutes or so into overtime.

Your reporter began the proceedings with "Roberto Clemente," David Thomas Roberts' 1979 melancholy-tinged remembrance of the hall of fame baseball player that's become a staple of the contemporary ragtime repertoire.

Bill Mitchell then assumed the keys and honored three requests: James Scott's "Quality," Luckey Roberts' "Music Box" and James Scott's great "Grace and Beauty."

Phil Cannon brought along his classical guitar and performed two true classics of ragtime: "Heliotrope Bouquet" and "Solace." The lush chords of "Heliotrope" sounded wonderful, and his rendition of "Solace" was a true serenade.

Ron Ross played an early Joplin rag, "Palm Leaf," in honor of the composer and Black History Month, then stayed in the classic vein with one of Joseph Lamb's dance-styled rags, "Cleopatra."

Frank Sano, usually most comfortable as an accompanist, put forth a good solo effort on Charles L. Johnson's famous "Dill Pickles."

First-time player Gene Oster made quite an impression with two-handed, thickly textured performances of some stride and early jazz classics. First was the 1920-ish "Sugar," which he said he modeled after a piano roll or nickelodeon rendition a la Jimmy Blythe. Next was Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'," followed by Joe Sullivan's "Little Rock Getaway," then James P. Johnson's "Steeplechase Rag." Gene's high level of playing really lit up the room.

Nancy Kleier brought a winter Olympics theme to her set (and her usual impressive sight reading skills), starting with "Toboggan Rag," a 1912 rarity. I liked its wintry sound, courtesy of a descending triad run to start the first strain, kind of like jingling bells. Next was "Ragged Edges" (in reference to the edges of the figure skaters' skating blades), a 1911 rarity. To finish off, she took us through a trip to the showers with "Turkish Towel Rag" from 1912.

Fred Hoeptner played an interesting set, starting with the old favorite "Pickles & Peppers," and his own beautiful composition, "Aura of Indigo." After a hesitating skirmish with his recently composed "Ragging through Town," he settled down with James Scott's march-like "Evergreen Rag" for a finale.

That took us to intermission and Mr. Bill Coleman's pleasing medley of tunes from the golden age through the 1970s.

Les Soper started the second half of the program with Imogene Giles' "Red Peppers." Next was "Levee Revels," the 1898 "southern interlude" by William Christopher O'Hare that Les played wonderfully. Next was a piano/vocal arrangement of Percy Wenrich's "Red Rose Rag," followed by "Canadian Capers," a popular 1915 rag by Chandler/White/Cohen. To finish off an enjoyable set, Les chose James Scott's romantic "Ragtime Betty."

Bill Mitchell returned for a second set, starting with Joplin's "Peacherine Rag," on which he and I duetted. For his solo, he chose Jelly Roll Morton's "The Pearls," always a favorite and one of the best in Bill's expansive repertoire.

Phil Cannon played another beautiful ragtime classic on his guitar, James Scott's "Rag Sentimental."

We brought Gene Oster back up for a couple more: "Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" and "After You've Gone."

Frank Sano and Bill Mitchell played duo pianos on "I May Be Wrong But I Think You're Wonderful," "Dinah," and "I Got Rhythm." Gene joined Frank on a revisit of "Sugar."

To close off the meeting, Nancy Kleier led a quartet of she, Bill Mitchell, Les (on washboard) and Phil on three Joplin staples: "Maple Leaf Rag," "Pine Apple Rag" and "Easy Winners."

Nancy put the bookends on the meeting with a piano tour-de-force, E.T. Paull's "Chariot Race" (a.k.a. Ben Hur March) from 1894.

Thanks to all who participated and attended. We hope to see you at the March 26th meeting. We'll be featuring Jay C. Munns, a superb pianist who's been entertaining audiences for nearly four decades. Jay's repertoire is reputedly vast, comprising ragtime, standards and silent film-era tunes, among others. We're expecting a full house so we encourage everyone to arrive as early as possible. The gavel goes down at 2:30 p.m.

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