“They all played the Maple Leaf Rag” is an album that both ragtime enthusiasts and those new to ragtjme will enjoy. There are 15 different interpretations of Scott Joplin’s 1899 Maple Leaf Rag, all recorded between 1907 and 1969. If you aren’t familiar with the original tune, I recommend listening to Ralph Sutton’s 1950 version first. Although none of the recordings on this album follow the sheet music score exactly, this is probably the most accurate. There are a variety of artists who have been captured here including Jelly Roll Morton, Willie the Lion Smith, James P. Johnson, Eubie Blake and my favourite, Sidney Bechet’s New Orleans Fleetwarmers with Bechet doing a killer job on soprano sax. Jelly Roll Morton also provides an interesting insight in the different ragtime styles that existed within America. He first plays it in the traditional Joplin style, popular in and around St. Louis and then in his own New Orleans style, quite different but equally as good.
I recently saw an extended CD version of this album at David Jasen’s Archive Productions website.
You don’t have to know anything about ragtime to appreciate this collection!