The Crown Syncopators | Ragtime Dance Party

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Ragtime Dance Party

by The Crown Syncopators

Hot, danceable ragtime
Genre: Jazz: Ragtime
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1. Pegasus - A Classic Rag
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2. The Cake Walk In The Sky
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3. Hello Frisco Medley (Intro. Hold Me In Your Loving Arms)
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4. Pickles And Peppers
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5. Whistling Rufus
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6. Who Let The Cows Out?
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7. Honky Tonky
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8. Poor Butterfly
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9. Rabbit\'s Foot
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10. Pork And Beans
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11. Queen Rag
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12. Castle House Rag
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13. Smoky Mokes
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14. The Smoky Topaz
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15. Wild Cherries Rag
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3:27 $0.99
16. Pleasant Moments - Ragtime Waltz
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3:07 $0.99
17. Maori- A Samoan Dance
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18. Shake It And Break It
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19. The Lion Tamer Rag
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Ragtime Dance Party
With the Crown Syncopators

Celebrating the excitement, brilliance, and power of Ragtime, The Crown Syncopators bring the house down in their latest CD. Ragtime was the defiant, out-and-proud, in-your-face music of the energized youth culture at the turn of the last century. Ragtime got young people out on the ballroom floor, dancing wildly, and dancing close.

The Crown Syncopators beautifully capture this youthful spirit and will set your foot tapping and your hips swaying with their terrific renditions of these American musical classics.

Formed in 2007, The Crown Syncopators Ragtime Trio consists of Virginia Tichenor on drums, Marty Eggers on tuba, and Frederick Hodges on piano. The trio plays regularly to enthusiastic crowds of music lovers at legendary waterfront restaurant Pier 23 in San Francisco and is expanding its territory to include ragtime and jazz festivals around the country.

Liner notes

1. Pegasus—A Classic Rag (copyright 1920 by John Stark) James Scott

Native Missourian James Scott (1885-1938) was working as a pianist and theater organist for silent films in Kansas City, Kansas, when John Stark published Scott’s delightfully roguish “Pegasus.” Scott presumably submitted his compositions for publication untitled and was thus obliged to accept his publisher’s choice of a title. With this piece, Stark demonstrated his penchant for saving money by recycling cover art from earlier publications: the “Pegasus,” cover and title, was originally used in 1908 for a march by Robert A. Sterling. Nevertheless, Scott’s “Pegasus” has eclipsed Sterling’s piece to become a treasured classic in American piano literature.

2. The Cake Walk In The Sky—Ethiopian Two-Step (copyright 1899 by M. Witmark & Sons) Ben Harney

Ben Harney (1872-1938) was one of more colorful personalities in ragtime history. Billed as the “Originator of Ragtime,” Harney electrified audiences on the stage at Tony Pastor’s variety theater in New York City with his ragtime piano playing, singing, and dancing. He later toured the country in a popular Vaudeville act, even appearing in Europe. “The Cake Walk In The Sky,” performed here as an instrumental, was presumably one of Harney’s stage specialties along with his other coon song hits “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon, But You’ve Done Broke Down” and “Mister Johnson, Turn Me Loose.”

3. Hello Frisco Medley (Introducing: “Hold Me In Your Loving Arms”) From the Ziegfeld Follies of 1915 (copyright 1915 by M. Witmark & Sons) Words by Gene Buck. Music by Louis A. Hirsch

The Ziegfeld Follies were an annual series of eye-popping musical revues on Broadway in New York City that ran for decades starting in 1907. The hit song from the 1915 edition of the follies was “Hello, Frisco! (I Called You Up to Say “Hello!”),” presented in an elaborate stage production celebrating the inauguration of transcontinental telephone service between New York City and San Francisco. Since the invention of the telephone, AT&T had wanted to link the phone lines from one side of the country to the other. Employing Lee De Forest’s signal-amplifying vacuum tubes placed along the 3,400 miles of wires connecting one coast to the other, the first trial took place in July 1914, when the president of the company, Theodore Vail, spoke from one coast to the other. The big public unveiling of the new technological feat occurred on 25 January 1915, at a meeting in San Francisco. Sitting in New York, Alexander Graham Bell repeated into the phone what he had once said decades before: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” This time, however, Watson, who was sitting in San Francisco, replied, “It will take me five days to get there now!”

Included in our arrangement is another hit song from the same edition of the Follies, “Hold Me In Your Loving Arms.” Both songs were composed by the successful Broadway composers Gene Buck (1885-1957) and Louis A. Hirsch (1887-1924). Buck was chief assistant to Florenz Ziegfeld as well as a successful sheet music cover artist.

4. Pickles and Peppers (Copyright 1906 by Adeline Shepherd) Adeline Shepherd

Adaline Shepherd (1883-1950) was born in Algona, Iowa. She spent most of her life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she composed the enormously successful “Pickles and Peppers” in 1906. In 1908 at the Democratic convention in Denver, “Pickles and Peppers” was played at every appearance of the presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan. She also composed a number of other rags such as “Wireless Rag” (1909) and “Live Wires Rag” (1910). In 1910, Shepherd followed in the footsteps of far too many female ragtime composers and left the world of music following her marriage to an insurance executive.

5. Whistling Rufus—A Characteristic Two Step March (copyright 1899 by F.A. Mills) Kerry Mills

The cakewalk was a traditional form of music and dance that originated among slaves in the Southern United States. It takes its name from competitions slaveholders sometimes held, in which they offered slices of hoecake as prizes for the best dancers. The dance was inspired by formal European ballroom dances. One common form of cakewalk dance involved couples linked at the elbows, lining up in a circle, dancing forward alternating a series of short hopping steps with a series of very high kicking steps. Costumes worn for the cakewalk often included large, exaggerated bow ties, suits, canes, and top hats.

Composer Frederick Allan “Kerry” Mills ignited the American cakewalk craze in the 1890s with the publication of “Rastus on Parade” in 1895. In 1897, Mills unsuccessfully tried to find a publisher for his next composition, “At A Georgia Camp Meeting,” and was obliged to form his own publishing company just so he could publish it himself. This mistake on the part of established publishing houses skyrocketed F.A. Mills to the forefront among New York music publishers. “At A Georgia Camp Meeting” quickly became the best selling cakewalk in the history of American music. Mills followed this with a string of cakewalk hits including “Whistling Rufus,” which purports to represent the musical stylings of an itinerant black musician named “Whistling Rufus” who allegedly accompanied cakewalks in the “Black Belt District” of Alabama by whistling and strumming on the guitar. The whistling heard in our rendition has been supplied by Frederick Hodges.

6. Who Let The Cows Out?—A Bully Rag (Copyright 1910 by Howard & Browne Music Co.) Chas. Humfeld

Loaded with humorous musical quotations, “Who Let The Cows Out?” was the brainchild of St. Louis native and vaudevillian Charles Humfeld. He was nicknamed “Humpy” and billed as “The Musical Artist.” At the end of the first strain, the sheet music calls for the performer to “make a noise like a cow.” We have honored this request by the judicious use of the precision-balanced orchestral cowbell.

7. Honky Tonky—One Step (Copyright 1916 by Broadway Music Corp.) Chas. McCarron & Chris Smith

Charles McCarron (1891-1919) was a well-respected Tin Pan Alley composer and Vaudeville performer. His published output includes such numbers as “Fido Is a Hot Dog Now” (1914), and “Eve Wasn’t Modest ‘till She Ate That Apple” (1917). He collaborated chiefly with Albert Von Tilzer, but fortunately also teamed up with composer Chris Smith (1879-1949) to write the fast-paced instrumental “Honky Tonky.”

Smith was born in Charleston, South Carolina. While still a young lad, he traveled with medicine shows and went into Vaudeville, where he performed in acts with Elmer Bowman and Jimmie Durante. He also wrote music for Bert Williams. Smith’s most enduring song is the frequently revived 1913 hit “Ballin’ The Jack.”

8. Poor Butterfly. From the Big Show at the New York Hippodrome. (copyright 1916 by T.B. Harms Co.) Words by John L. Golden. Music by Raymond Hubbell

The Hippodrome Theatre stood in New York City from 1905 to 1939. It was located on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets. The auditorium seated 5,300 people, and it was equipped with what was then the state of the art in theatrical technology. Its stage was 12 times larger than any Broadway theater and capable of holding as many as 1,000 performers at a time, or a full-sized circus. It also had an 8,000-gallon clear glass water tank that could be raised from below the stage by hydraulic pistons for swimming-and-diving shows. The Hippodrome featured lavish spectacles complete with circus animals, elephants, diving horses, opulent sets, and 500-member choruses. Until the end of World War I, the Hippodrome housed all sorts of spectacles then switched to musical extravaganzas produced by Charles Dillingham, the producer of the spectacle The Big Show, for which “Poor Butterfly” was composed. Inspired by Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, the music was written by Raymond Hubbell (1879-1954), the lyrics by John Golden (1874-1955). The song was sung in the show by Sophie Bernard. Becoming an instant hit and an enduring standard, “Poor Butterfly” quickly became the butt of many a musical parody such as Zez Confrey’s “Poor Buttermilk” of 1921, the 1917 comedy answer song, “If I Catch the Guy That Wrote Poor Butterfly,” and many others.

9. Rabbit’s Foot—Fox Trot (copyright 1915 by Walter Jacobs) George L. Cobb

George Linus Cobb (1886-1942) was a prolific composer best known for his first-class ragtime compositions. He was also a prolific composer of ragtime songs, collaborating chiefly with Jack Yellen. Their earliest success was in 1913 with “All Aboard For Dixie Land,” which was interpolated into Rudolf Friml’s Broadway musical production High Jinks, where Elizabeth Murray’s thrilling interpretation of the song made it the unqualified hit of the show.

Cobb scored his biggest instrumental hit with the “Russian Rag” in 1918 and spent the rest of his musical career as a staff composer for the Boston publishing firm of Walter Jacobs.

10. Pork and Beans—One Step, Two Step or Turkey Trot (Copyright 1913 by Jos. W. Stern & Co.) C. Luckyth Roberts

Charles Luckeyeth Roberts, better known as Luckey Roberts (1887-1968) was born in Philadelphia. As a young boy, Roberts gained valuable show business experience by traveling and performing with Black minstrel shows. He settled in New York City about 1910 and became one of the most inspiring and influential pianists in Harlem. Along with James P. Johnson and others, Roberts was one of the originators of the “stride” style of ragtime piano playing.

Roberts toured France and the United Kingdom with James Reese Europe during World War I, then returned to New York where he wrote music for various shows and recorded piano rolls. Roberts’ compositions include “Junk Man Rag,” “Moonlight Cocktail,” and “Railroad Blues.”

An astute businessman, Roberts became a millionaire twice through real estate dealings. He also owned restaurants, led dance orchestras, and was the featured radio pianist for Moran & Mack, a.k.a The Two Black Crows. Luckey’s unique middle name was spelled a variety of ways, two examples of which are given above.

11. Queen Rag—Two Step (copyright 1911 by The Joseph Krolage Music Co.) Floyd Willis

Floyd Willis was a popular accompanist for silent films in Cincinnati. His best-known composition, “Queen Rag,” was named for an Ohio River excursion steamer, The Island Queen, which ferried passengers from Cincinnati about ten miles east to a riverside amusement park called “Coney Island”—not to be confused with the better known park of the same name in New York. This amusement park is still in operation today but the Island Queen was destroyed in a fire in 1922, after 26 years of service.

During its heyday, ragtime was featured on The Island Queen through the volume-intensive medium of a steam calliope, the master of which was Homer Denny, composer of numerous rags and songs celebrating both Coney Island and the boat on which he worked.

12. Castle House Rag—Trot and One Step (copyright 1914 by Jos. W. Stern & Co.)

James Reese Europe (1881-1919) was a leading figure in the New York music scene in the second decade of the 20th century. In about 1912, as social dancing became increasingly popular in the United States, the decorated dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle hired Europe and his society dance orchestra to perform at their “Castle House” dance hall. In this capacity, Europe composed numerous pieces that illustrated the new dances that the Castles innovated and popularized. Compositions such as “Castle’s Half and Half,” “Castle’s Lame Duck Waltz,” “The Castle Maxixe,” “The Castle Innovation Tango,” “The Castle Perfect Trot,” and especially the “Castle House Rag,” illustrate Europe’s compositional flair for writing snappy dance numbers that perfectly demonstrated the proper rhythms and meters of the latest dance sensations.

Europe’s orchestra made a series of recordings in 1914 for Victor Records. These recordings show off Europe’s imaginative arranging style, combining complex melodies with driving rhythms. When the United States entered World War I, Europe signed up and was commissioned a lieutenant. He was ordered to put together the best band possible. This regiment became the 369th Regiment, known as the “Hell Fighters,” and proceeded to amaze continental Europe with its brilliant and original American ragtime music.

At the end of the war, Europe and his band were welcomed home as heroes and immediately embarked upon a nation-wide tour. Europe died tragically in 1919 when his disgruntled drummer fatally stabbed him in the neck. There may be a lesson here for band leaders everywhere.

13. Smoky Mokes—Cake Walk and Two Step (Copyright 1899 by Feist & Frankenthaler) Abe Holzmann

Abraham Holzmann (1874-1939) was born in New York City where he studied at the New York Conservatory of Music. “Smoky Mokes” was the first of Holzmann’s many successful compositions. It is a splendid cakewalk that was also published as a song with a “Humorous Darky Text.” He later served as advertising manager for the American Federation of Musicians publication, International Musician. In 1915, “Smoky Mokes” was interpolated into the Broadway show A Modern Eve at the Casino Theatre in New York.

Concerning the introduction and acceptance of “Smoky Mokes,” an article that appeared in the New York Herald on Sunday, 13 January 1901 reported:

When John Philip Sousa raised his baton to the opening measures of Composer Holzmann’s famous “Smoky Mokes” last season, the noted bandmaster’s audience was nonplussed. Then surprise gave way to delight and vociferous applause. Persons in the audience consulting their programmes discovered a new genius in their midst. From that hour the name of Holzmann was a byword for American cakewalks, and “Smoky Mokes” re-echoed upon the pianos of a million music lovers.

14. The Smoky Topaz—March and Two Step (Copyright 1901 by Daniels & Russell) Grace M. Bolen

Grace Marie Bolen (1883-1970) was born into a wealthy Kansas City family. Her first composition, “The Fair” (1898), was published when she was just fifteen years old. Her most beloved composition, “The Smoky Topaz,” is a surprisingly mature work for a young girl of seventeen. Like Adeline Shepherd, marriage for Bolen spelled the death of her career as a composer. Showing true devotion to her new career choice, she actually got married twice in 1903. A few years later, she married a third time. With her newest husband, newspaper editor Jay Davidson, Bolen moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, and later to Kilgore, Texas, where she taught piano and voice. She died in Longview, Texas where she was known as “Mama Grace.”

15. Wild Cherries Rag (Copyright 1908 by Ted Snyder Co. Inc.) Ted Snyder

Ted Snyder (1881-1965) was born in Freeport, Illinois, and gained much practical musical experience by performing as a café pianist in Chicago for many years. In 1908, he formed his own music publishing company. In 1909, Snyder made the historically significant move of giving a young Irving Berlin his first job as a staff lyricist. Four years later, the two soon paired up as business partners along with Henry Waterson, forming the publishing house of Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. In fact, upon being hired, one of Berlin’s first assignments was to write lyrics for Snyder’s instrumental rag “Wild Cherries.” Berlin came up with a set of clever coon song lyrics about a certain Miss Lucinda Morgan White and her rapturous reaction to the playing of ragtime by Mister Jackson, the leader of a big brass band.

16. Pleasant Moments—Ragtime Waltz (Copyright 1909 by Seminary Music Co.) Scott Joplin

In addition to their other publishing activities, Ted Snyder and Henry Waterson owned and operated a small publishing enterprise called Seminary Music Company, which they founded in 1906. In 1908, the enterprising pair managed to lure Scott Joplin (1869-1917) away from Joseph W. Stern and Company and began publishing a series of Joplin’s best and most sophisticated compositions, beginning with the” Sugar Cane Rag.” This was soon followed by “Pine Apple Rag,” “Wall Street Rag,” “Country Club,” “Euphonic Sounds,” “Paragon Rag,” “Solace,” and the ragtime waltz “Pleasant Moments.”

While most rags are in 2/4 time, ragtime waltzes did exist. With “Pleasant Moments,” Joplin effortlessly and gracefully illustrated that any style of music or any meter could be ragged.

17. Maori—A Samoan Dance (Copyright 1913 By Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co.) Wm. H. Tyers

Although a good number of publications were issued with William H. Tyers (1876-1924) credited as composer, he spent most of his musical career behind the scenes in the music industry working as an arranger for various publishing houses. Arranging a song or a piano solo for publication is an exacting art that few composers were expected to understand or master. Such a financially crucial activity was left to the expertise of the official arranger who was trained in the art of creating simplified yet satisfying arrangements that would attract rather than intimidate the amateur home pianist browsing through the sheet music department of her local music shop. While most arrangers never received credit for their work, Tyers was occasionally credited, most notably on such ragtime gems as the 1899 Joseph W. Stern edition of Tom Turpin’s “Harlem Rag” and the 1910 Leo Feist edition of Scott Joplin’s “Sycamore Rag.”

Tyers remained with Stern from 1897 to 1914. Along with James Reese Europe, Tyers was one of the founders of the Clef Club—a private club and booking agency for Black composers and musicians. Throughout the second decade of the 20th century, Tyers conducted dance bands and created band arrangements for others, including James Europe. Indeed, in 1918, Tyers traveled to France to act as arranger and assistant conductor to Europe’s 369th U.S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band.

After returning home in 1919, he was appointed assistant conductor to Will Marion Cook’s New York Syncopated Orchestra. Over the next three years, Tyers toured with this outfit, even giving a command performance for King George V of England. During the summers, Tyers led the orchestra at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

“Maori” was originally published as a song in 1909 with lyrics by Henry S. Creamer and is one of a series of Tyer’s pieces whose titles evoke exotic locations and peoples. His 1910 tango “Panama” has always been a favorite of jazz bands, having been recorded by such groups as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Red Nichols and His Five Pennies, and Jelly Roll Morton’s Six. “Maori” has no less a distinguished history, having been recorded by Duke Ellington’s Jungle Band in 1930 for Brunswick Records.

18. Shake It and Break It (Copyright 1920 by Handy Bros. Music Co. Inc.) Words by H. Qualli Clark. Music by Signor “Friscoe” Lou Chiha

The composer of “Shake It and Break It” was a virtuoso Vaudeville xylophonist with the exotic name of Signor Friscoe, a.k.a. Lou Chiha. “Friscoe” made twelve xylophone records for Edison, and while he was there, he also participated in the famous tone-tests, in which live performances were compared with Edison phonograph recordings in the presence of audiences. An advertisement for “The New Edison: The Phonograph with a Soul” (4 September 1920) describes the spectacle:

Vaudeville’s Strangest Thrill—Meet Signor Friscoe, xylophone artist extraordinary—and vaudeville’s newest purveyor of magic. Meet the New Edison—his chief “magic.” Signor Friscoe comes on to the stage and plays. His agile hammers ripple merrily over the xylophone keys. Suddenly Signor Friscoe holds his hammers poised in mid-air. But his xylophone performance continues—as if some magic influence were at work upon the keys. Then the curtains part. The audience gasps. The New Edison stands revealed. It has been matching Signor Friscoe’s performance so perfectly that its Re-Creation could not be distinguished from his original performance.

It is tempting to imagine that Signor Friscoe was playing “Shake It and Break It” for this demonstration.

19. The Lion Tamer Rag—A Syncopated Fantasia (Copyright 1913 by A.F. Marzian) Mark Janza

Mark Janza was most likely a pseudonym for publisher and composer Albert Frederick Marzian (1875-1947). Born in Russia to German parents, Marzian immigrated to the United States in about 1887. Marzian was the conductor of the Louisville, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and taught high school music. From 1900 onwards, he lived in Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he worked as a music teacher and theater conductor.

Among his other notable ragtime compositions are counted “Aviation Rag” (1910), “Angel Food Rag” (1911), and “Bale O’ Cotton” (1914). However, “The Lion Tamer Rag” stands out not only as the best of his compositions but one of the best and most exciting rags ever published. Accurately replicating the performance style of circus bands, this rag combines acrobatic pianistic pyrotechnics with unexpected musical surprises that have no counterpart in ragtime literature. Like a circus clown car, trick after trick tumbles out of the “The Lion Tamer Rag”—and just when the listener has been lulled into thinking that he has seen the last of the musical tricks, out pops another series of delightful musical thrills.

Notes by Frederick Hodges

About the Artists

Formed in 2007, The Crown Syncopators Ragtime Trio consists of Virginia Tichenor on drums, Marty Eggers on tuba, and Frederick Hodges on piano. The trio plays regularly to enthusiastic crowds of music lovers at legendary waterfront restaurant Pier 23 in San Francisco and is expanding its territory to include ragtime and jazz festivals around the country.

The trio derives its name from the brand name of the piano at Pier 23, which happens to be a rare 1909 art-case, four-pedal upright piano manufactured by the Crown Piano Company. This very instrument has the added distinction of having belonged at different times to Bay Area jazz piano greats Burt Bales and Ray Skjelbred. In 2007, Skjelbred sold the piano to Marty Eggers, who arranged to house it at Pier 23, where Bales played for over a decade in the 1950s and 1960s.

Virginia Tichenor has been consumed by ragtime her entire life, as the daughter of Trebor Tichenor, the noted ragtime scholar, pianist, collector and founder of the St. Louis Ragtimers. She studied music at the St. Louis Community Association for the Arts and took advanced training from concert pianist, John Philips. Always at the crossroads of the ragtime revival, her parental home houses the world’s largest library of ragtime sheet music and piano rolls. Virginia grew up with legends like Eubie Blake, Max Morath and Butch Thompson chatting in her own living room. Her father is advisor-confidant for most of the ragtime community, so Virginia often heard new rags when they were forming in the minds of their composers. Since 2001, Virginia has performed regularly as the pianist in the Devil Mountain Jazz Band of Oakley, California. Virginia’s ragtime piano experience has prepared her well to play the drums, which she has been doing since 2005.

Marty Eggers is a California native with deep roots in the ragtime community. In a career spanning several decades, Marty has earned a world-wide reputation as a master of ragtime and classic jazz piano. Marty has played with numerous Bay Area jazz and ragtime groups, including the Black Diamond Jazz Band and Bo Grumpus. Marty is the principal bass and tuba player for Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra. He also appears at ragtime festivals with the Tichenor Family Trio (Trebor Tichenor, Virginia Tichenor, and Marty), and performs around the country with the Butch Thompson Trio and the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio.

Frederick Hodges specializes in the piano music and popular songs of the ragtime era, the 1920s, and the 1930s. While still in college, he was hired by Don Neely to serve as pianist and singer with the famed Royal Society Jazz Orchestra. Soon, Frederick was playing solo piano for society parties and holding down steady engagements at legendary Nob Hill establishments such as L’Etoile in the Huntington Hotel, Masons in the Fairmont Hotel, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Frederick also plays piano with the Peter Mintun Orchestra, the Jesters vocal trio, and with various jazz ensembles. In addition to these musical outlets, Frederick enjoys a career as a silent film accompanist, in which capacity he is heard monthly at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, the Redding Silent Film Festival, and other silent film festivals around the world. As a solo pianist, he is a favorite at jazz and ragtime festivals around the country. For more information, please visit Frederick’s website: www.frederickhodges.com

Production Credits
Recording and mastering engineer: Russell Bond
Second engineer: Justine Milburn
Recording location: The Annex, Menlo Park, California. www.musicannex.com
Recording dates: 20 and 21 August 2008
Piano: Yahama Conservatory C-7 Grand Piano

Photographer: Lewis Motisher
Location for photography: Brune-Reutlinger Mansion, San Francisco, California

Graphics: Sienna Digital, Menlo Park, California. www.siennadigital.com

Producers: Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, and Frederick Hodges


Reviews


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bert kenyon

glorious,ebullient ragtime
this album rates as a "must-have" for lovers of ragtime music.