Zez Confrey: Piano Rolls and Scores

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey 1895-1971 was the acknowledged father of the novelty ragtime idiom. His music is neither classical, nor wholly popular, and certainly not "jazz." It is an amalgam of French impressionism, Victorian-era parlor piano, and the syncopated rhythms of ragtime, and it assimilates popular melody in a snappy, sophisticated, and unconstrained manner. And yet, despite these populist and appealing traits, until very recently Confrey's work was consigned to the land of the lost, known mainly to piano players and ragtime specialists. This Artis Wodehouse production, Zez Confrey Piano Rolls and Scores, utilizes a similar operational method to her previous ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey 1895-1971 was the acknowledged father of the novelty ragtime idiom. His music is neither classical, nor wholly popular, and certainly not "jazz." It is an amalgam of French impressionism, Victorian-era parlor piano, and the syncopated rhythms of ragtime, and it assimilates popular melody in a snappy, sophisticated, and unconstrained manner. And yet, despite these populist and appealing traits, until very recently Confrey's work was consigned to the land of the lost, known mainly to piano players and ragtime specialists. This Artis Wodehouse production, Zez Confrey Piano Rolls and Scores, utilizes a similar operational method to her previous George Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton releases drawn from piano rolls, with one important distinction: In cases where Confrey left no roll of a certain piece, she recorded the work herself on a Disklavier and edited the performance in a manner similar to piano-roll editing. The transition from Confrey's own fussily edited roll performances and Wodehouse's reprogrammed interpretations of his published pieces is seamless, and the disc sounds like one player the whole way through. Zez Confrey Piano Rolls and Scores includes Confrey's usual suspects, "Kitten on the Keys," "Stumbling," "My Pet," and "Dizzy Fingers," and some other titles that are less familiar but equally engaging "Greenwich Witch". There is also a selection of Confrey's best work as a roll editor on tunes written by others Confrey reputedly made 223 piano rolls altogether. The disc makes a strong argument for the piano-roll arrangement as perhaps the best medium for the transmission of Confrey's music. Comparing the roll performances to the written scores, it is clear that Confrey was as eager to exploit the piano roll's capability to deliver "impossible" pianism as Conlon Nancarrow would be decades later, albeit within more of a standard musical framework. Even in the score-to-roll realizations made by Wodehouse, such as "Tap Dance of the Chimes," the music fairly glows with joyfulness and warmth, despite its digital means of reproduction. Confrey also made phonograph records, some of which have also been collected by Artis Wodehouse on a Pearl disc in the Keyboard Wizards of the Gershwin Era series. But while they are valuable for purposes of study, the clunky, primitive sound of Confrey's Edison and Brunswick records of the early '20s can't hold a candle to the luxuriant and rich tones of the Disklavier in this collection. Piano-roll performances may not get listeners very close to some of the classical pianists who made them, such as Theodor Leschetizky and Ferruccio Busoni, but for Zez Confrey the technology represents an ideal. One thing is certain -- Zez Confrey Piano Rolls and Scores may well be the most immediate and enjoyable piano release from 2002. Its 23 selections go by in a flash, and you will want to hear it again and again.
BBC Music Magazine - Jeremy Nicholas
The program of Confrey's own piano rolls is thoroughly representative of his compositions...among the most distinctive, defining music of the era.
Wall Street Journal - Barrymore Laurence Scherer
The sort of musical fun we could use right now.

The sort of musical fun we could use right now.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/1/2003
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • UPC: 809274930927
  • Catalog Number: 49309

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Artis Wodehouse Primary Artist, Disklavier
Technical Credits
Jeff Taylor Liner Notes
Zez Confrey Piano Rolls
Joseph Patrych Producer, Engineer
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