Greatest Ragtime Album of All Time
March 16, 2011

The greatest ragtime album of all time (in my opinion) is John Arpin’s "The Kings of Ragtime".

To fall into the "greatest of all time" category for anything demands a superb musical performance and John delivers that. What I like most about the album is that Arpin has selected a broad spectrum of composers that significantly influenced the ragtime era.

Kings of Ragtime

Composers include Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Eubie Blake and Scott Joplin among others.

John Arpin

John Francis Oscar Arpin (3 December 1936 – 8 November 2007) was a Canadian composer, recording artist and entertainer, best known for his work as a virtuoso ragtime pianist.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Arpin

John starts the album off with Eubie Blake’s "The Chevy Chase" from 1914. Eublie Blake came to the Toronto Ragtime Society’s annual Bash just before he passed away. I remember John playing the Chevy Chase back in 1983 with the same energy he put into this recording. He follows that with some Scott Joplin rags and then a very classical rendition of Joseph Lamb’s Ragtime Nightingale. Eubie Blake pronounced John Arpin "the Chopin of Ragtime" and you will hear why on this tune.

John then really mixes it up with George Gershwin‘s Rialto Ripples. Who knew Gershwin was into ragtime? He continues on with a variety of composers and then a two part rendition (blues/boogie) of W.C. Handy‘s "St. Louis Blues", a highlight of this album and of John Arpin’s concerts. Besides the St. Louis Blues, perhaps my favourite selection is William Bolcom‘s "Graceful Ghost". This modern day (1971) rag is so beautifully executed I would imagine that any pianist hearing it would add the Graceful Ghost to their bucket list of must learn songs.

The Kings of Ragtime is one of those rare albums that you never tire of hearing because of its variety and top notch performance. I highly recommend this album to ragtime enthusiasts and welcome comments from you about your favourite ragtime albums!

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!

Ragtime Kidd Repertoire
February 13, 2007

I love many styles of music and I believe it is healthy
to accept the merits of each. Playing at the Holiday Inn for years and various tour boats have secured me with a broad repertoire covering styles like Pop, Rock and Roll, Jazz Standards, Ragtime and Boogie-Woogie.

What is Boogie-Woogie? I maintain it was the precursor to the Rock and Roll that was popularized in the 1950s by Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino and the like.

Here’s what Wiki says:

Boogie-woogie is a style of piano-based blues that became very popular in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and was extended from piano, to three pianos at once, guitar, big band, and country and western music, and even gospel. Whilst the blues traditionally depicts sadness and sorrow, boogie-woogie is associated with dancing.

Source: Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boogie-woogie_%28music%29

Here are some of the rags and boogie I like to play:

Ross the artist
February 13, 2007

I have performed at many functions in the Kingston area for over 20 years. I developed a love for Ragtime in 1982 when I became hooked on the Classic Piano Ragtime book by Rudi Blesh. I studied under John Arpin, Toronto’s great pianist and President of the Toronto Ragtime Society at the time.

One of my highlights was playing for Princess Diana on her visit to Kingston in October 1991.

I have worked several drummers in the past and I still work occasionally with Doctor Drums. I have been a member of the Ragtime Society in Toronto and the Kingston Musician’s Union Local 518.

In 2009, I finished a 20 year gig as “The Ragtime Kidd” performing as the house pianist at the Holiday Inn Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts and appreciation for ragtime with all of you!