Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

MARCH, 1998

NUMBER 23

Rose Leaf Ragtime Club February Meeting (2/22/1998)

Reported by Gus Wilmorth


It threatened to rain all day but only drizzled around the edges. A fitting tribute to old George (Washington) on his birthday. Since last meeting another George (McClellan) had tuned up the IHOP piano, but it still had some illnesses requiring emergency servicing during the meeting. But our piano experts unstuck keys and kept them jumping for the duration. Eric Marchese reported that he knew of a used upright that we might acquire for a nominal sum if suitably supported by donations. He will inquire further. Our organization moves forward: Becky Todd took over the cashier's task—if we distribute flyers, etc., we will apply to her for reimbursement. Charles Carpenter has continued the search for an alternate venue but has not as yet found a suitable spot; if we acquire a piano most places would not store it between meetings and moving it in and out would be onerous and/or expensive.

With Eric Marchese at the helm we got under way with our namesake, "The Rose Leaf Rag" followed by the Joplin/Chavin collaboration, "Heliotrope Bouquet," and a lively "Swipsey Cakewalk." He also played Scott's "New Era Rag" and closed his set with Tom Brier's "Rose Blossoms" (circa 1995).

He called up Sally Pelke who played Eric's three-rag suite written to honor the big three ragtime composers: "Uncle James" for James Scott, "One for JFL" for Joe Lamb, and "A Dream of Ragtime" for Joplin. Eric was inspired to write the suite by the appearance at the Sedalia Scott Joplin Festival of some surviving relatives of the great composers: Joplin's niece, Scott's grand nephew and Joe Lamb's daughter Patricia. To the best of his ability he tried to use the composers' techniques in writing the pieces, analyzing their unique phrasings and incorporating similar notes in his rags.

John Roache took over with a brief pitch for his MIDI-produced CD and Cassettes to play, first, "Pine Apple Rag," followed by Jack Rummel's "Lone Jack to Knob Noster" (another tribute to the Sedalia festival), and "Weeping Willow." After a pause for piano repairs he encored with "Maple Leaf Rag."

Eric Marchese reprised with two 1903 Joplin efforts, the music for a song, "Little Black Baby," and "Palm Leaf Rag."

After the break, Gary Rametta, a longtime silent fan, came up from Rancho Palos Verdes to play "Scott Joplin's New Rag", "Elite Syncopations" and his "Grace and Beauty," plus "Peacherine" and "Sunflower Slow Drag."

Gary said that what he likes about ragtime is the depth of the documentation. While "The Sting" was a force in marginalizing ragtime, beyond Joplin there is genius—something to learn—in every rag. A very good effort! Gary has learned well.

Eric Marchese continued our education by playing his "Grape Vine, A Rag in Good Taste" that he based on Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag, A High Class Rag" but with some James Scott influences. Eric played some simlar phrases from his own rag in contrast with the originals. Except for some shifts in key, etc., very similar. He further played a pair of Scott rags, "Quality Rag" and "Rag Sentimental" to point out that the third strain in both rags was very much the same.

George McClellan gave us a question and answer session with "Who's Sorry Now" and "I'm Sorry, Dear." He followed that with "All by Myself (in the Moonlight)" and his own composition, "Crazy Legs" (1995).

Eric closed the festivities with "Solace." Next Meeting March 29, same place, same time, same piano.


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