- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
DAVID A. JASEN
The Golden Age of ragtime, when middle-class America not only accepted ragtime but reveled in it, lasted from 1904 to 1910. This was when ragtime was heard all over the land, especially in pleasure haunts, from the dives to the first-class vaudeville houses. It was a time when a piano was a major furnishing in most homes, and the daughter or wife of the house took lessons. It was also a time in which the sale of sheet music dominated the popular music industry and the sales of ragtime sheet music boomed. More rags were published in this period than in any other. Of course, most rags—like most other musical compositions—were either imitative of the hits or just not very good. However, those rags which caught the public's fancy tended to be snappy, toe-tapping, catchy rags with captivating themes.
This was the time when million-selling rags nearly kept pace with the million- selling songs of the time. In our day if a pop recording doesn't sell at least five million copies it is presumed to have a structural weakness. But during the first decade of this century, when the population numbered around ninety million, a piece of sheet music that couldn't be sung or danced to but nevertheless sold a million copies, had to be really something. The first genuine million-selling rag was Scott Joplin's 1899 gem, "Maple Leaf Rag" (see Dover's Classic Piano Rags, 20469-3), although it took nearly twenty years to achieve that sale. The next million-seller was Charles L. Johnson's 1906 favorite, and the first of the vegetable rags, "Dill Pickles" (see Jasen & Tichenor's Rags and Ragtime, A Musical History, for the fascinating story of how it was named). Other million-selling favorites to be found in the present volume include Jay Roberts' "Entertainer's Rag," Raymond Birch's "Powder Rag," the vaudeville team of Lyons & Yosco's delicious "Spaghetti Rag," which again proved its timelessness during the 1950's ragtime revival, Henry Lodge's "Temptation Rag," Jean Schwartz's "Whitewash Man" and Ted Snyder's "Wild Cherries." This rag was so popular and for so long that some forty years later comedian Jimmy Durante remembered vividly how he played it in the Coney Island resorts for several years.
The Scott Joplin rags included here are among his very finest; they are reprinted for the first time in a folio since the original publications: "Searchlight Rag," "Rose Leaf Rag" and his most mature masterpiece, "Fig Leaf Rag." Of special interest to the fans of James Scott will be his outstanding "Grace and Beauty," at long last in print once more. Joe Jordan's "That Teasin' Rag" has had a stormy journey since it was first published. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band used its Trio in their "Original Dixieland One-Step" recording of 1917, without bothering to get Jordan's permission. While the "One- Step" still makes for a spirited jazz number, it was originally part of this 1909 rag.
Many Tin Pan Alley song composers got their start writing rags, and we find examples galore here with Albert Gumble's "Bolo Rag," Harry Tierney's "Bumble Bee," George Botsford's "Chatterbox Rag," Harry Armstrong's "Frisco Rag," Egbert Van Alstyne's "Honey Rag" and Herbert Ingraham's "Poison Ivy."
The earliest rag here is New Orleanian Al Verges' "Whoa! You Heiffer," extraordinarily scarce as a piece of sheet music today, although it was recorded on both discs and piano rolls in 1904 and achieved wide popularity. Another New Orleans rag, Bob Hoffman's "I'm Alabama Bound," was used in many songs by various composers. One of these, fellow-New Orleanian Jelly Roll Morton, pretty much made it his property.
The Midwest's contribution to ragtime has not been ignored, and is represented here by Bernie Adler's "Dat Lovin' Rag," Frank Henri Klickmann's "Knockout Drops" and J. Russel Robinson's "Sapho Rag." New York City boasts three orchestra leaders turned ragtime composers: Malvin Franklin and Arthur Lange, co-writers of the winter drink favorite, "Hot Chocolate Rag," and Ford T Dabney, composer of "Oh! You Devil" (a couple of years later, he repented when he wrote "Oh! You Angel!").
The sounds of ragtime are as varied as the performers who play them. The feelings engendered by these rags are equally varied, but uppermost are the gaiety and high spirits that abound on each page. These rags represent America at its playful best.
Excerpted from Ragtime Gems by David Jasen. Copyright © 1986 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 22, 2000
The first follow up to the three larger Dover editions of collected ragtime, this is the one that really smokes, and has rags that simply will not be ignored. Not only are three Joplin greats part of the package, but the well known Dill Pickles, Wild Cherries, Temptation Rag, the incomparable Entertainer's Rag, and Scott's masterpiece, Grace and Beauty. You can find many of them on my site as well, if you want to hear them first. The three Joplin pieces alone would run in the hundreds of dollars in today's thriving collectible sheet music market. So if you can deal with the covers not printed in color, you'll be duly entertained, and hopefully entertaining, when perusing the contents of this book that you should be buying instead of just reading this rambling review!!!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.