In recent years, Martin Spitznagel has become known as one of the most unusual and exciting ragtime pianists and composers active in the world today. Jazz pianist and Eastman School of Music professor Tony Caramia calls him a "young man who approaches Ragtime with the vitality, strength, enthusiasm, gusto, and spirit that it deserves." And reviewer Jack Rummel adds that Spitznagel's "interpretations are anything but stereotypical -- one hardly knows what to expect next!"
In Handful of Keys, his second Rivermont disc, Spitznagel aims to "meet the modern audience where they are" by adapting ragtime and stride classics to his unique style, while also performing pieces not usually associated with ragtime. In the program, he treats the listener to ragtime interpretations of tunes from Walt Disney's Mary Poppins as well as themes from well-known video games. Added to the mix are a half-dozen of Spitznagel's own compositions, including "The Train Town Rag," winner of the 2010 Scott Joplin Foundation New Rag Contest. Although a hundred years or more may separate each tune from the last, the music flows seamlessly from start to finish.
The CD includes a handsome 20-page illustrated booklet packed with notes by the artist and an introduction from pianist Brian Holland. 74 minutes.