Search - Scott Joplin, Thomas "Fats" Waller, Bix Beiderbecke :: Rhapsody in Ragtime

Rhapsody in Ragtime
Scott Joplin, Thomas "Fats" Waller, Bix Beiderbecke
Rhapsody in Ragtime
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1


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A Masterpiece!
"Gimpy" Peach Johnson | 04/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The word "masterpiece" is often over-used in reviews here on Amazon, but in this case, it's certainly appropriate. Richard Dowling may be better known as a classical pianist, renowned for his interpretations of such romantic and impressionist composers Chopin and Ravel, but his sensitive touch transfers beautifully to these ragtime, stride, and early jazz selections. There are some familiar rags here from Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Euday L. Bowman, Felix Arndt, Zez Confrey, and others, but also some delightful obscurities such as Abram Chasins's "Rush Hour In Hong Kong," Gershwin's "Two Waltzes In C," and Ferde Grofé's previously unrecorded "Three Shades of Blue." Admittedly, much of the music on this CD falls outside the realm of so-called "classic ragtime," and leans more towards the 1920s/1930s "novelty" and Gershwin-esque classically-influenced jazz, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. As a long-time classic ragtime fan, I found the selections on this disc a refreshing change of pace from the usual fare. I'm particularly astounded by Dowling's performance of Bix Beiderbecke's "In A Mist." Aside from Bix's own solo piano recording of his most famous work, I consider Dowling's to be the definitive performance of the score as it was originally published (and I've heard several dozen solo piano recordings of "In A Mist"). Dowling's mastery of the impressionist style gives "In A Mist" a warmth and beauty I've never heard anywhere else. Forget Claude Bolling, forget Ralph Sutton, forget Dick Hyman, Dill Jones, Lincoln Mayorga, Ken Werner, or any other pianist you've heard play "In a Mist." They may be decent, but THIS is it! Having said that, I would have liked a little more "oomph" in Dowling's performances of Fats Waller's "Handful of Keys" or Eubie Blake's "Charleston Rag," but on the whole, this is a remarkable CD that I consider one of the highlights in my extensive ragtime collection. The recorded sound is brilliant--like sitting in the front row of a concert hall listening to a beautifully-tuned Steinway grand piano. No out-of-tune, rinky-dink upright here! Dowling treats the pieces with the respect they deserve, and his flawless technique and energetic performances make him one of the best ragtime pianists around today. Highly recommended!"