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Ragtime Reflections

By Doug Parker (with apologies to Scott Joplin)

Sacramento Ragtime Society Newsletter–April, 1993

We've had various ensembles at our meetings, such as Professor Parker's Grand Reunion Ragtime Ensemble, led by cornetist Bob Romans; the High F'lutin trio, and in the early days, the Elite Syncopations, a trio or quartet consisting of first the late Bob Rutherford, and later Dorothy Strange at the piano, Jean Levinson on tuba or valve trombone, Lisa Owen on tuba, and Doug Parker on banjo.

There have been many people who have contributed to the Sacramento Ragtime Society in other ways over the years, who should be mentioned here. Larry Applegate, one of our founders, functioned as our first “musical director”. Art Edwards also served as musical director and was very helpful in finding new sites for us whenever a move was necessary. Deborah Gale worked over and beyond the call of duty in producing an excellent news magazine, as well as performing other services for our club. Richard Riley put the Sacramento Ragtime Society on the map, as it were, with his “disklavier” recordings of our performers. Susan Larsen turns from her piano to her computer to produce a fine newsletter each month. Our membership chairman Merv Graham keeps those accurate and comprehensive notes of “who played what” at our meetings, and keeps our mailing list up-to-date. Mike and Marj Kass like to “repay all the musicians” for their enjoyment of the music by putting on those wonderful garden parties every July.

Many other people have given the SRS their continued support over the years; Bob Bedford, Bill and Shirley Schoening, Albert and Bette Wiley, Bob and Peg Fingado, Paul and Pat Schreiner, Paul Johnson, Jim Roach, Bill Rebold, Leslie Erickson, Yvonne Kresen, Bob, Wendy and Tim Orr. Special thanks are in order for Bob Smith, a laborer in the ragtime and jazz vineyards, who helps out the SRS and the Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble in so many ways.

We'd also like to thank Roger Krum and the rest of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society for working with us to present the Ragtime Corner every year during the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. This is another accomplishment the SRS can point to with pride, as it gives us an opportunity to showcase our local talent. We're also delighted to have visiting pianists such as Robbie Rhodes, Mark Allen Jones and Tex Wyndham stop in during the festival and treat us to a few ragtime solos.

It's been a great eleven years of ragtime, and we're sure the coming years will be good ones for our music and for the Sacramento Ragtime Society. Who knows what lies ahead? Maybe we can emulate our friends in Fresno, Sedalia, Superior, Boulder City, and put on our own Ragtime Festival! Stay tuned!

Can it be possible that eleven years have passed since the founding of the Sacramento Ragtime Society? Must be, as we celebrated our anniversary at our March 1993 meeting. Art Edwards, one of our long-time members and an SRS “pioneer”, appeared as a guest emcee to introduce Marty Eggers, who, along with Larry and Sherry Applegate and a few others, helped start the club back in 1982.

What a great 11 years it has been, with so many great things happening, and so much fine music played by so many good people. Those very talented performers range literally from A (Adams) to Z (Zimmerman). This banjoist/scribe/musical director has been around during the past 11 years to see a lot of great things happen, and would like to take time now to “reflect” on them, as the title implies.

I look back at the development of Marty Eggers from a shy kid who at the time played pretty good ragtime piano to an excellent perform on both the piano and string bass, making a name for himself in both fields of ragtime and traditional jazz. Tom Brier has blossomed into a very exciting performer and prolific composer. Is it possible he's graduating from college this year? Susan Morgan Larsen has come from ”square one“ as a performer to become an accomplished player with an interesting repertoire. The Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble has evolved from a trio consisting of Elliott Adams and Bub and Petra Sullivan to its present seven-person configuration, adding to the trio Ray Bauer (percussion), Julia Riley (flute/piccolo), Bill Pezzaglia (tuba) and Doug Parker (yours truly, on banjo).

We've been fortunate to have some fine players from out-of-State appear at our meetings. The versatile Frank French from Colorado entertained us at our November 1992 session. Composer/pianist Gil Lieby of Omaha has dropped in on two occasions. Yvonne Cloutier, co-founder of the Lake Superior Ragtime Society was with us at our November 1988 meeting.

Another person noted as both a performer and an activist, Dick Zimmerman, one of the founders of the Maple Leaf Club in Los Angeles, frequently participates at our meetings. Other fine players whom we haven't seen in quite a while include Fay Golden, Al McDearmon, Ken and Jean Keeler and Danny Balser, who has now developed into a good Dixieland trumpeter, leading her own band, the “Midnight Rose”. Another good player with one foot in jazz and one in ragtime is Emmett O'Sullivan, who turns from the Dixieland clarinet and saxophones to witty, entertaining ragtime piano performances.

Last but not least among pianists, there is a wonderful gentlemen who has delighted listeners for so many years and has contributed so much as a player, teacher and composer; Wally Rose, the “father of West Coast ragtime”. This “living legend” will be the honored guest at the Santa Rosa Trad Jazz Festival in August of this year.

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