The Rags Thread

Piano, Fortepiano and Harpsichord Music
Rob C.

Cheese and Crackers or Welsh Rarebit :-)

Post by Rob C. » Tue Dec 15, 2015 7:19 pm

Hi Frank,

I stand corrected, sir! And, I'm grateful to you for discovering the errors. I went over each strain of "Happy Rag" (so I'm sure that's identified correctly--the main difference in the roll is that it omits the first appearance of the second strain), but, I jumped the gun on "Cheese and Crackers" and "Sand Paper" [for our friends who are not familiar with this idiom, "jumped the gun" means "decided prematurely"]. I thought the second strain of the "Welsh Rarebit Dream Rag" was simply inserted into "Cheese and Crackers." And, "Sand Paper" is clearly not the same as Auto H-SSS-5-10 (though I wholeheartedly agree that this unknown rag is a really nice piece--better than "Sand Paper").

WRDR--what an unusual name for a rag! And, not only does VanAlstyne use the same strain in both pieces, the beginning, middle and end of WRDR is that strain. If I'd bought both rolls 100 years ago I may have felt a bit cheated. :).

Nathan, thanks for venturing out with your opinion on these unknown pieces (not many people write on this thread, so additional voices are always appreciated). Without your help, WRDR would probably still be unidentified. As I said earlier, I wouldn't have been any help on this one. How bizarre that two different rolls, by the same composer yet, begin with identical strains!! (The introductions were different, but still...) It took both you and Frank to solve this one, Nathan!

Best to all,

Rob

Rob C.

Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Rob C. » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:55 am

Gordon, Thomas Renton - Creole Beauty - 1953 [typeset score].pdf
Gordon, Thomas Renton - Creole Beauty -1953 [manuscript].pdf
Creole Beauty (1953).MID
Gordon, Thomas Renton - Twister [rag] - 1969 (typeset).pdf
Gordon, Thomas Renton - Twister (1969)- recording.mp3
Gordon, Thomas Renton - Twister - 1969 [midi].MID
Gordon, Thomas Renton -Introduction to Pastime Rag 3.mp3
Gordon, Thomas Renton playing Pastime Rag 3.mp3
Hi Everyone!

I'll finish up what I had planned for this thread before I go on to the School of Syncopation thread (later). A few postings ago when Frank pointed out the similarities between the trios of Gumble's "Red Fox Trot" and James P. Johnson's "Harlem Strut" I was reminded of the trio of Tommy Gordon's "Twister" which is an intentional improvisation of a famous two step from the ragtime era (1907, to be exact). Later, words were put to this piece and I had a recording of it as a child. One of Gordon's piano students asked him, "Why did you do that? Why not just compose something original?" He just smiled and said he was having a little fun. I'll leave it to you to determine the song (though I'll be happy to give the answer if it's requested).

If you're wondering who Tommy Gordon (1928-2002) was, I'd venture to say that he's perhaps the best second generation ragtime composer you've never heard of. He spent most of his life in South Shield,s England. Just two years after he passed away, mostly from complications of diabetes, one of his piano students, Dave Kerr (who also still lived in England), emailed me scans of two of Gordon's manuscripts: "Frivolity" (1951) and "Aeoleus [which translates "West Wind] (1977). I was hooked!!

A couple of years later, with Gordon's widow's gracious permission, a band mate of Tommy's set up a website devoted to his music and John Orton (another of Gordon's devoted former piano students) and I set about making typeset versions of his manuscripts. One day Dave Kerr emailed me a Gordon manuscript he didn't know he had. Almost completely forgotten, "Creole Beauty" turned out to be one of his very best compositions. Though complete, Gordon was still in the process of editing it. For example, eight bars into the trio he crossed out the LH. "Should we just put that back in?" I asked John. "No," John wrote back, "Tom never would've done that. He would've done something like this instead," and Orton sent me the LH for that bar you'll see in the final version. Well, about this time John was unable to continue the project for personal reasons and the typeset version of "Creole Beauty" has been languishing in the "Rob Archives" :) for seven and a half years. I thought I'd release it here first, then send it to the website. Whenever I play this, my wife says ,"What's the name of that? I love that one."

BTW, Dave sent me some recordings of Tommy playing and he told he wasn't able to identify a couple of them. One turned out to be "Creole Beauty"! (Dave had been waiting for the typeset version before he tried playing it.) It's from a homemade record so the scratches and static sound much clearer than the piano :) , but, still, you can hear Tommy himself playing this gem! We didn't discover this recording until after we finished typesetting the manuscript so we didn't change anything we'd done.

Here's the website devoted to Gordon's music: http://www.gkf.ic24.net/trg/index.htm. If you're interested in trying some others I suggest you begin, as I did, with "Frivolity," Aeoleus." I also highly recommend you add to that first download "Vieux Carre." Tommy plays a nice rendition of this (though the sound quality leaves much to be desired) but John was surprised at the tempo, because, when John knew him (beginning in the mid 1960s) he played this at about quarter note = 110. It was a lightening fast piece used to impress audiences.

Tommy was a fine pianist. There are a few nearly professional sounding recording, one, of "Pastime Rag # 3," I've posted above. I wish the engineer had finished recording it, but it just fades out. In the introduction Tommy says that Pastime Rag # 3 was the last to be written. Has anyone else heard this before, because I hadn't? I've heard that Mathews sold 8 pastime rags to Stark and that Stark may have purchased them all at about the same time--circa 1913. I've also heard he held off releasing Pastime Rag # 4 because it was so jazzy sounding (Stark would be appalled I used the word "jazzy," perhaps I should say "modern" instead :)) But, these are mostly "rumors" I've heard.

Mmm, Pianophilia won't allow me to upload this recording of "Creole Beauty," I think because it's a MPEG 4 audio file. Fortunately, unlike the score, it's posted on the website here: http://www.murl.ic24.net/trg/audio.htm, so that's convenient.

Best to everyone,

Rob
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Rob C.

Mike Montgomery at the Lamb Household

Post by Rob C. » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:10 pm

Oh, Frank I've been meaning to ask you... what did Mike Montgomery tell you about living with Joseph F. Lamb?! I, and I'm sure many other members, would be thrilled to read what you remember!!

Thanks in advance!

Rob

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by fhimpsl » Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:58 pm

Hi Rob,

With the kind indulgence of the membership, I will be happy to share my memories of conversations with Mike regarding the many months he lived with the Lamb family. Actually I was privileged to know two collectors who were personally acquainted with Joe, the other being Thornton (Tony) Hagert, who is a foremost American popular musicologist and lifelong student of all forms of music.

From all accounts, Joseph F. Lamb was one of the most humble and kind people to ever grace the lives of those around him. Joe would never accept any form of adulation from admirers. Music was his love and his hobby, and in any conversation regarding the serious value of his own work he would quickly defer to the works of others, or to entirely different and lighter topics altogether. He admired Scott Joplin above all other composers, but Lamb was very well acquainted with the classical and romantic piano literature. Mike told me his basement was filled with piles upon piles of Etude magazines and multiple Schirmer collections of the great classics. Lamb was an astute musician with impeccable taste. Tony Hagert made special mention of his abilities as a pianist, and that neither Rudi Blesh's recording project nor Mike's tape recordings captured what it was like to hear his playing 'sans microphone.' Tony described his playing as "authoritative." Lamb realized that the Blesh project was intended to be a historical document, and in homage to Joplin as well as his own intense attention to musical detail his readings were done directly from the sheet music. Lamb certainly knew all of his tunes by heart, but this was 'for the record' and he could not tolerate any errors. And so some measure of spontaneity might have been lost, irrespective of the historical importance of these recordings.

I regarded Mike as a somewhat larger-than-life guy for having spent all that time with Joe and his family. We met the first time shortly after his first piano roll LP project for Biograph, which would have been around 1971-2. Many, many times we talked about Joe and his music. Both Mike and Tony were well aware of the "Nightingale Rag" story which Rudi had Joe recite for the Folkways LP. Here Joe deferred to Ethelbert Nevin, quoting the "Nightingale Song" from Op. 28 as inspiration although only the interlude preceding the restatement of the 2nd theme in Lamb's rag finale can be traced to that piece. A far stronger influence is from Chopin's Op. 10-12, which forms the bass accompaniment to the first theme, and firmly illustrates Lamb's knowledge of Chopin. In fact all the beautifully pianistic writing in the classic piano rags by Lamb, Joplin and Scott have their roots in the romantic literature.

Lamb was far too selfless an individual to ever entertain detailed discussions of his musical ideas and inspirations. To illustrate this, I would share my favorite memory from these related talks with Mike. At one point, Mike had tried over and again to involve Joe in a conversation as to just where he got the idea for dotted eighth rhythms in "American Beauty Rag." After listening for awhile, Joe abruptly broke off and said "hey Kid, let's go grab us some red hots at Coney." Red hots is Brooklyn slang for hot dogs and of course the other reference is to the famous Coney Island boardwalk and amusement park which was not far from the Lamb household. While this might not be satisfying to a musicologist, it is reflective of the kindness and self-effacing generosity that Joe possessed. It is also the humility of true genius. Music was not something to be over-analyzed in his book; it was to be loved and appreciated on its own merits. Offhand I can think of two giants of 20th century piano literature who shared similar sentiments, Villa-Lobos and Vladigerov. The latter composer once commented (paraphrasing) "do not analyze my music, love it."

Although Joe Lamb died before my tenth birthday, I always felt a personal tie. He was from Montclair, NJ, only a few miles from West Orange where I was born and spent an early part of my childhood. The old neighborhoods are very similar, and without doubt the sights and sounds were not so very different. The horses and trolleys were gone, but the barns, hitching posts and tracks were still there. My family spent vacation times in Kitchener, Ontario back in the 50s and 60s where my mother had friends from Germany. Kitchener was originally named Berlin, changed during WWI, and as we know Lamb had lived there for several years. Of course at that time I knew about Joplin but had not yet heard about Joe Lamb. I found the second Joplin rag I ever owned in a music store on King Street (Elite Syncopations) and played it in the lobby of the Walper House where we stayed. Only many years later did I learn that Lamb inscribed an early rag for that hotel. When I hear Joe's voice on the Folkways LP, I hear the oldtimers from north Jersey, along with a heavy dose of Brooklyn thrown in. I understand Joe worked his entire life in the garment district, which occupied a stretch along 7th Ave. in Manhattan. He never earned anything from his music in the monetary sense. Payment from Stark was in store credit and multiple copies for friends. It was all about having the music published, sharing it and honoring Joplin whom he so admired.

All in all, from what I've been able to glean from the countless talks and thoughts over the years is that Joseph F. Lamb was an American original in the truest sense. Personally, he was everyone's best friend, Dad or Grand-dad. With a passion for ragtime and a hefty gift of genius for good measure.

All Best,

Frank

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Jean-Séb » Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:35 am

Thank you Frank for this interesting narration.

Rob C.

Pick-A-Ninny Whispers

Post by Rob C. » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:35 am

Allan, Norman Fraser - Pick-A-Ninny Whispers -1908.pdf
Allan, Norman Fraser - Pick-A-Ninny Whispers - 1908 DRAFT.mid
Pick-A-Ninny Whispers © info. & composer photo.pdf
Dear Frank,

Thank you SO MUCH for generously sharing your memories of your conversations with Mike about Joseph Lamb! I GREATLY appreciate it. You're a treasure trove of ragtime history (not to mention a fine encyclopedia). The breadth and depth of your knowledge never fails to amaze me!!

Attached is a very interesting well-scored rag sent to me by a ragtimer who lives in Texas. It was written by Canadian pianist and composer Norman Fraser Allan. I'm also attaching a draft midi of PANW along with copyright information for this piece and a photo of the composer. Enjoy this rarity!

Best,

Rob
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Jim Faston
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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Jim Faston » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:48 am

Anyone with a scan of Lou Busch's Waltz in Ragtime to share? Many thanks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzDKq58ZYvk

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by fhimpsl » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:40 am

Hi Jim,

Score attached below. The YouTube link with Lincoln Mayorga's version of this tune is very nice to hear. Mayorga was a good friend of Lou's, and like him was active recording ragtime in the 50s/60s (under the pseudonym "Al (Spider) Dugan." Bob Wright first played this waltz for me years ago, and his performance was transcribed by John Farrell for piano roll (midi recording also attached).

All Best,

Frank
Busch, Louis (as 'Joe Fingers Carr') - Waltz In Ragtime (1952, Chatsworth).pdf
Waltz In Ragtime (Lou Busch) - as pb Bob Wright; trans. John Farrell - JAM 101.mid
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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by Jim Faston » Thu Aug 04, 2016 12:17 pm

Fantastic! Many thanks.

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Re: The Rags Thread

Post by lebowl » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:20 pm

Anyone have the Desecration Rag by Arndt? Here is great performance by Max Keenlyside.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOr_Qbh3HH0

THANKS!!

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