Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club August Meeting (8/27/2006)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

Gary Rametta got the meeting off to an efficient start with, what else? "Efficiency Rag," by James Scott. He then invited Bill Mitchell to join him on a couple of duets: Scott Joplin's "Peacherine Rag," and Scott Hayden's collaboration with Joplin, "Something Doing."

Bill then soloed on "Belle of Louisville," Frank French's popular romp from 1990, named for a paddle-wheeler operating out of Cincinnati. He then played an early James Scott number, "Kansas City Rag," published in 1907, after the composer's first big hit, "Frog Legs." He gave another nod to that city with Jelly Roll Morton's "Kansas City Stomps."

At this point Gary called a short business meeting, required because we were told that IHOP would be closing in three days, and we would have to arrange for moving the two pianos and finding a new meeting place. The outcome was discussed.

Nancy Kleier always has a theme for her sets, and with the coming of September she chose "Going back to school and needing bonehead English." She led off with "Ain't I Lucky," by Bess Rudisell, followed by "One o' Them Things," by James Chapman and Leroy Smith. She completed her set with "I-X-L March and two-step," by the prolific Harry Lincoln.

Gary then treated us to one of the most inspired compositions of the ragtime revival: "Roberto Clemente," by David Thomas Roberts—a beautiful piece, beautifully played.

Before starting his set, Ron Ross gave a plug for the upcoming concert that evening at the Old Town Music Hall featuring Jeanne Ingram and Shirley Case. Ron's opener was "Palm Leaf Rag," by Scott Joplin. He then turned to a couple of his own songs: "Studio Sensation" and "When Ruby Plays the Blues."

Eric Marchese opened with a real rarity, "Saratoga Glide," a 1909 number by Harry L. Newman. He continued with one of Joseph F. Lamb's posthumously published pieces, "The Bee Hive Rag." Probably written somewhere between 1908 and 1914, it ranks among the composer's very best. A prolific composer of rags himself, Eric concluded with his "Out of Time." Whatever the intent of this title, the tempo was regular.

Stan Long chose to play the beloved standard, "It Had to Be You," in an arrangement by Rod Miller, long-time Disneyland pianist and inspiration to Stan. (Rod Miller was in the audience and at the close of the meeting reminisced a bit about Walt Disney.) Stan rounded off his set with Percy Wenrich's seldom-heard "Snow Deer Rag," and Joplin's "Peacherine Rag" in an unusually fast arrangement, aided and abetted by Bill Mitchell.

During intermission Gary played David Thomas Roberts and Yuko played Chopin's "Polonaise in Bb Minor."

Fred Hoeptner led off with James Scott's brilliant "Efficiency Rag," efficiently performed. He provided a decided contrast in mood with "Texas Fox Trot," a somber but tender masterpiece from 1915 by David Guion. He concluded his set with one of his own compositions, the intricate and neo-classical "Dalliance."

Les Soper played a variety pack of selections, leading off with Joplin's "The Chrysanthemum," a relatively unsyncopated but delightfully tuneful piece of work. He then turned to "Apple Sass," a frisky folk rag by Harry Belding. Then came Joplin's majestic "Gladiolus Rag." Winding up the set was "Levee Revels, An Afro-American Cane-Hop," by William Christopher O'Hare. This 1898 piece is hauntingly evocative of the Old South, and was a precursor of ragtime.

Coming all the way from the Riverside area, Norm Zix had his own variety pack, opening with an elegant version of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are." He turned next to "At a Georgia Camp Meeting," a tuneful Kerry Mills cake-walk. The novelty piano genre of the 1920s was represented by Zez Confrey's ever-popular "Dizzy Fingers." He concluded with the theme from "Ragtime," which was the last movie in which James Cagney had a part.

Phil Cannon favored us with his banjo arrangements of two Joplin rags: "Elite Syncopations" and "Fig Leaf Rag." The latter is one of the composer's most difficult piano pieces, and Phil's handling of it on the banjo is greatly to be admired.

The meeting concluded with a few "play alongs." Eric and Bill on the two pianos and Les on his washboard rendered Percy Wenrich's "The Smiler" and Charles Cooke's "Blame It on the Blues." Phil joined them on Joplin's "Pine Apple Rag," Bill dropped out on the next two numbers because he had never memorized them: Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag" and "Paragon Rag." Nancy took his place. Bill returned for the grand finale on "Maple Leaf Rag," with Stan also joining the ensemble, which now had eight hands at the pianos, plus one banjo and one washboard. The roof was raised! Farewell to the IHOP.

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