View Full Version : Looking for some great ragtime...
03-24-2002, 01:46 PM
What are your favorite ragtime/new orleans jazz bands either current or in the past? Looking for Preservation Hall sounding stuff.
03-24-2002, 05:30 PM
Joplin, hands down the best if not the only ragtimer ever.
03-24-2002, 06:23 PM
Oh. I thought this thread was about menstrual fetishes. Carry on...
I'm sorry. Really, I am. I just couldn't resist. :D
A musician friend of mine swears by Max Morath.
03-24-2002, 07:30 PM
Ragtime music and New Orleans jazz are two very different things.
When I'm more sober I'll run down the reasons, and sprinkle the lecture with terrifying musical terms like "syncopation" and "stop-time chorus" and "Miff Mole."
In the meanwhile, I'll recommend the Scott Joplin rag orchestrations on THE RED BACK BOOK, performed by the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble under the baton of early-jazz expert Gunther Schuller, alavilable on EMI-Angel
03-24-2002, 07:31 PM
Go for the originals: Sydney Bechet, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, etc.
With all respect to Hodge, Ike is right—Sydney Bechet, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton and NOT "ragtime."
Go for the original stuff, not the modern re-creation crapola. Hit www.tinfoil.com and its links and get some original 1910s recordings from James Europe, The Castle House Orchestra, Wilbur G. Sweatman, etc.
Great stuff—you can come over to my place, we'll crank up the Victrola, roll up the carpet and Turkey Trot and Gavotte around the joint till the neighbors call the cops!
03-25-2002, 09:42 AM
Originally posted by Ukulele Ike
In the meanwhile, I'll recommend the Scott Joplin rag orchestrations on THE RED BACK BOOK, performed by the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble under the baton of early-jazz expert Gunther Schuller, alavilable on EMI-Angel And reportedly inspired George Roy Hill's soundtrack in The Sting.
Ragtime is still around, though not as common as it was a century ago. For example, Mike Knudsen (http://members.aol.com/knudsenmj/myhomepage/) has been composing ragtime since the mid '60s and Hamish Davidson (http://www.geocities.com/hamo_2000/compose.htm) has been composing for the past couple of years. I recall seeing a ragtime reference application for Windows in the '90s; features were the history of ragtime and a guide to composing ragtime.
03-25-2002, 10:25 AM
Jeff, thanks for the plug for Mike Knudsen. I sat through much of the development of UltiMuse, his MIDI software, and have known him for twelve or fifteen years, though he always looks like he's never seen me before. (I was newsletter editor when he was president of our CoCo club. Yeah, Mike, I'm the guy who hassled you for your column! And it's not like there were ever more than thirty people at any one meeting. :rolleyes: Ya know? Screw the plug! I wish you never mentioned that jerk! ;) )
Biograph Records (http://www.biograph.com/bin/findrecord.pl?index=BCD103) as CDs with piano rolls cut by Joplin, Morton, and others. They call them "digital" recordings, but I think they mean it in the "his own fingers" sense.
03-25-2002, 10:43 AM
In Scott Joplin's day, ragtime was actually orchestrated for small bands. On the covers of some of Joplin's piano rag sheet music, you can see mention of arrangements for string band, mandolin band (mandolins were big in those days), brass band, etc. Gunther Schuller drew upon this orchestrated ragtime tradition when he put together the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble. I went to see them in concert in 1975 and Schuller gave lots of introductory mini-lectures about the history of ragtime orchestration. The early groups, he noted with self-deprecatory humor, had more exciting names than "New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble" — names like the Red Hot Chili Peppers! (Do I hear someone in the back row hollering "BAND NAME!"?) :)
They also played a Jelly Roll Morton tune, representing the transitional stage between ragtime and New Orleans jazz. In Schuller's view — and he wrote a scholarly history of early jazz — Morton took ragtime, which had originally sprung up in the Midwest in the 1890s, and gave it a local New Orleans flavor (including the famous "Spanish Tinge"); this development merged imperceptibly into what we now call jazz. Although, as several posters have already noted, genuine Joplin ragtime and jazz are two very different things. Also, please do not confuse Irving Berlin's 1911 ditty "Alexander's Ragtime Band" with ragtime. It was a Tin Pan Alley tune with *no* syncopation, so it was not actually ragtime at all. And anyway by then ragtime was beginning to dissolve and disappear.
The record that got the whole 1970s ragtime revival craze started was Scott Joplin Piano Rags (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000005IYF/qid=1017073932/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_7_1/002-4927559-4058437), played by maverick classical pianist Joshua Rifkin (he of the Baroque Beatles Book). Rifkin's radical idea was to play Joplin's scores "straight," without any hot-jazz stylings. As though they were classical pieces by Haydn for piano solo. He succeeded at this, bringing out a lot of the delicate beauty and clarity of line.
After all, Joplin was a classically trained musician who made in-depth studies of harmony and counterpoint in music theory. People tended to forget that — why? because he was BLACK. Racist America was not ready for a BLACK classical composer so they ghettoized his compositions. Ragtime carried the stigma of the whorehouses where it was born, so respectable White music establishment could not accept Joplin's mighty efforts to develop it into a serious art form. Joplin was distressed by hotshot pianists who stuck tacks into the piano hammers' felt to make the novelty ricky-tick sound and sped up ragtime to a hyper tempo. So he began to put Notices on his sheet music: Notice — Do not play this piece fast. It is never right to play ragtime fast.
I recommend you start exploring ragtime with the Rifkin records. But Grok is right: Max Morath was a dude who kept ragtime alive all through the years when it was unfashionable and he was kind of old when the ragtime revival craze happened in the early 70s and he started getting gigs again. He played piano and had a small band, bringing the good old Maple Leaf to audiences for many years. I liked his instrumental rendition of "A Real Slow Drag" featuring lead banjo. (Incidentally, in the film Crumb you can hear R. Crumb himself on the soundtrack playing "A Real Slow Drag" during the poignant sequence of drawings showing the metamorphosis of old-time down-home America into strip malls.)
03-25-2002, 11:32 AM
OTOH, Rifkin's renditions can be soulless. He sucks the very life out of Maple Leaf Rag. This is countered by how his classical sensitivities, reducing emphasis on the left hand while slowing the piece down, transform The Gladioulus Rag from a snappy dance number to the heartbreaking, melancholy masterpiece on his record. Marvin Hamlisch followed his lead with it in The Sting. However, Rifkin is less successful doing the same thing with The Entertainer. It is un-entertaining when he is done with it. Hamlisch handled it better with the band.
After Rifkins early work with The Even Dozen Jug Band, where his piano work stood out with its staid technicality, I shouldn't have been surprised that he handles ragtime rather poorly.
03-25-2002, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by Eve
With all respect to Hodge, Ike is right—Sydney Bechet, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton and NOT "ragtime." ::Slapping forehead::
Of course, you & Ike are right. I focussed on hajario's "new orleans jazz" comment as that is one of my great loves and completely ignored the whole point of the thread.
This is particularly embarassing because I grew up listening to my grandfather play Scott Joplin tunes on the piano.
Not to worry, dear—the important thing is, you have great taste in music!
03-25-2002, 10:54 PM
Thanks, all, for the great information.
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