Archive for the ‘jazz’ Category

A rag for Barack Obama
January 26, 2009

A rag for Obama? Why not? James Scott wrote the New Era Rag in 1919 in anticipation of the roaring twenties. Scott Joplin dedicated rags to specific people. Tom Turpin wrote the St. Louis rag for the World’s fair in 1904. This is my contribution to the exciting stage America and the world is entering. I have renamed my Vitality Rag to the Obama Vitality Rag in honour of this time.

More info:

Obama Vitality Rag

Ragtime is truly an American music that originated before the Great Depression. In the face of the current political and economic situation there have been many references to this period of time and to the first 100 days after President Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration and the “New Deal” he pledged and delivered to the American people. President Barack Obama has overcome enormous obstacles to get where he is today and yet he faces even bigger challenges.

I hope you enjoy the tune!


A Blind Ragtimer?
February 7, 2008

Many of you have heard of blind pianists like Ray Charles, George Shearing, Ronnie Milsap and Art Tatum but did you know there was a blind ragtime composer?

Charles Hunter (1876-1906) was an American composer of ragtime music who was born almost totally blind.
He attended the School for the Blind in Nashville, Tennessee, where he learned the piano tuner’s trade. He went to work at the Jesse French Piano Company in Nashville.

Absorbing the folk strains of Nashville, he published his first rag, "Tickled to Death," in 1899, which became a hit. This was followed 1900 by "A Tennessee Tantilizer," and in 1901 by "Possum and Taters," "Cotton Bolls," and "Queen of Love."

Of these fine rags, my favourite is the "Possum and Taters". It is quite different than a Scott Joplin rag in that it relies more on melody than rhythm.

Possum and Taters Rag

I find the prominent single note melody that Hunter uses similar in style to that of Earl Hines "trumpet-style" piano-playing made famous in 1928.

The rag should be played with a clear statement of melody. The left hand should be present but slightly understated so as to not detract from the melody. Adding rubato, especially between strains, will give the piece a lilting character like a classical romantic piece. The piece sounds easier than it is to play properly, however, if you are a beginning ragtimer, this is a good introduction.

Charles Hunter lived only 30 years and produced a handful of rags, but the Possum and Taters will be remembered as a delicate piece of folk ragtime, a pleasure to play and hear.

Listen to Possum and Taters