With stirring rags and marches interspersed with gorgeous tangos and intermezzos, "Dualing at the McCoys" offers a spirited program of ragtime era music which you will enjoy on repeated listenings from its opening march, "Margery" (1898), to its rousing conclusion, "Borneo Rag" (1911). Nan Bostick and Tom Brier's double-piano performance is so impressive that Ken Burns included two cuts from this CD in the soundtrack of his PBS documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," first broadcast in Spring, 2005. The selected pieces are "Indian Summer" and "Borneo Rag."
Hailed as one of ragtime's most dedicated historians, Nan Bostick is the grand niece and biographer of Charles N. Daniels (Neil Moret), an influential turn-of-the-last century composer who helped Scott Joplin (the "King of Ragtime") publish his first rag in Kansas City ("Original Rags" 1899). This is Nan's first ever CD, a collaboration with her musical partner, ragtime composer Tom Brier.
Of the 20 selections on this CD, more than half were composed under various pseudonyms by Nan's great uncle. All of the pieces have some major connection to Daniels, as explained in Nan's extensive and beautifully researched liner notes. It's rare to run across such a stash of high quality, less-often heard music from this period. Even serious devotees of the era have probably never heard Neil Moret's lilting little 6/8 patrol, "Lady Bug's Review" unless they own a very rare piano roll of the 1909 composition.
The funny spelling of the word "dualing" in the title is a play on words. Though the shenanigans at some of Nan and Tom's live performances might suggest otherwise, this is not a "duel," but a musical partnership, a duo, that really blossoms on this recording. It was created in the Northern California home theater of the McCoy family (hence the title), a wondrous and elusive place replete with ancient musical instruments, 78 rpm records, and several gorgeous grand pianos.
Nan and Tom play with precision and finesse in clean, transparent sound captured and reproduced via the latest, state-of-the-art version of Xytar Digital Sytems by Lou Dorren, inventor of same. The fidelity is superb. You can hear Nan on the left channel pretty much sticking to the score, and Tom on the right offering subtle support and restrained lines of melodic filigree. This is not jazz-style improvisation, but the sort of embellishment you'd hear on piano rolls from the period. -- Lewis Motisher, editor and reviewer, Sacramento Ragtime Society
Other Rave Reviews for "Dualing"
"Dualing" is now one of my favorite ragtime CDs. It is located in a special area of my ragtime collections where repeat plays are most likely to occur. -- Bob Erdos, Proprietor, Stomp Off Records, York, PA
Think of this as an aural and visual slice of history - and a fun one, to boot - and think of adding it to your collection. -- Jack Rummel, reviewer and host of "Ragtime America," KGNU FM 88.5 Boulder, CO
"Granny Nanny" and "Hot Rod Tom" (as the two like to bill themselves when they duet at concerts and festivals) make a wonderful team. Both are assertive but sensitive players, and in person, both are mischievous and outgoing. Musically they carefully complement each other to produce a vibrantly rich and unified sound with what might be called piano-roll complexity. -- Bill Mitchell, Reviewer, "The Mississippi Rag"
Thanks for your CD -- it "rocks," as the kids say! I've listened to it about 20 times now and am nowhere near taking it out of constant rotation in my player; it gets better with every play." -- Chris Ware, Publisher, "The Ragtime Ephemeralist"
I LOVE your new CD. I featured you on my show yesterday. Thanks very much for the energetic, novel twists and beauty that you two have produced. -- Lucille Salerno, host, "Stompin' at the Savoy" KOPN FM 89.5, Columbia, MO
Glad to have aired some of that fine new disc! You two make one hell of an "odd couple," but the music is superb! -- Nick Dragos, former host "Classic Jazz" KXJZ FM 88.9, Sacramento, CA
My favorite tune on this CD is "Dark Eyes," written by Neil Moret in 1907. It's a romantic ballad. Soft. Lovely. It demands a low flame in a fireplace and a soft woman in your arms..."Echoes From the Snowball Club" (1898) written by Harry P. Guy reveals complex musical passages. In fact, a lot of the works on this disc, entertaining as they may be, were not easy to perform. This includes "My Ragtime Baby," a fun-spirited work that you must hear with the volume turned up in order to gather its fun impact. The piano work of Nan and Tom is excellent. - Claude Hall, former radio columnist for "Billboard" magazine
About the Artists:
A retired educator and curriculum designer, Nan Bostick, of Menlo Park, CA now focuses her time on performing, lecturing, contributing to vintage music publications, and teaching music to toddlers (newborn to age 4) through the Music Together program. Nan is a featured artist at music festivals across the country including the Jazz Jubilee and the West Coast Ragtime Festivals in Sacramento, the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in California's Mother Lode, the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia and Blind Boone Festival in Columbia, Missouri, the Vivace Arts and Music Festival of So Carolina, the Ragtime in Randall (Iowa) Festival, and the "Learning at the Opera House" summer series in Detroit, Michigan. Under the guise of "Granny Nanny," she frequently challenges "Hot Rod" Tom Brier to piano competitions, hoping her shtick-filled "dualing" routines will make the kid miss at least one note. He never does.
Sacramento's Tom Brier used to be California's greatest ragtime secret until the summer of 2001 when he made his debut at the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, MO. In his early thirties, this composing genius caught the ragtime bug when his parents purchased a Schubert mechanical player. He was only 4, but when he started picking out tunes he heard from the piano rolls, his parents immediately found him a teacher. Soon Tom was transcribing his own music and by age 11, he had composed nearly a dozen rags. Today he has over 140 ragtime compositions to his name. Tom is a mainstay at West Coast ragtime events and has produced several of his own CDs. An avid sheet music collector, Tom is noted for performing and popularizing extremely rare but wonderful rags, and for inspiring "Granny Nanny" to attempt to keep up with him.