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Manhattan Ragtime Orchestra: Euphonic Sounds (2004)

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Manhattan Ragtime Orchestra: Euphonic Sounds No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

If you have a desire to really discover some of the main roots of jazz, the Manhattan Ragtime Orchestra is a good place to start. Clarinetist Orange Kellin's ensemble performs the music in authentic ragtime style, giving listeners an idea as to what it must have been like to hear it as it was originally intended.

Few, if any, liberties are taken with the repertoire, and the members of this band are extremely familiar with the style. Pianist Terry Waldo is one of the foremost exponents of ragtime, while cornetist Jon-Erik Kellso is among the small group of younger musicians working to keep older styles of jazz out of footnotes and onto bandstands.

The album's subtitle, "Radical Popmusic from the Ragtime Era," refers to just how "out" this material was for its time, some 80 to 100 years ago. That we can still appreciate its artistry speaks volumes for the material and performers. Kellin and company walk that fine line between the spirit of the material and spirited performance, not letting modern sensibilities or the urge to take an extended solo run away with them. "A Bunch of Blues" from 1915 is such an example, having enough leeway for the band members to play exuberantly without losing the original intent.

Most welcome—and appropriate—is violinist Skye Steele, whose playing in the ensemble emphasizes the band's ragtime era authenticity.

The foundations of jazz and popular music are present throughout the CD, with nascent "Latin" pieces and orchestrated blues-based material. It's a fun visit to early 1900s as close as your modern stereo.

Track Listing: 1 Magnetic Rag 4:22; 2 The Junk Man Rag 2:57; 3 Cubanola Glide 3:04; 4 Mama's Gone, Goodbye 3:20; 5 Memphis Blues (Mr. Crump) 3:21; 6 The Cannon Ball 2:36; 7 Maori (A Samoan Dance) 5:07; 8 New Orleans Wiggle 3:22; 9 A Bunch of Blues 4:51; 10 Euphonic Sounds 3:12; 11 Medley: Oh, You Beautiful Doll/On Mobile Bay 3:38; 12 Ghost of the Blues 3:26; 13 La Pas Ma La 3:36; 14 Lassus Trombone 2:42; 15 St. Louis Blues 3:54; 16 Kinklets 3:10; 17 Egyptia 3:22; 18 The Thriller! 2:24; 19 Porto Rico 3:35; 20 Kiss Me Sweet 3:24; 21 Blame It on the Blues 2:43.

Personnel: Conal Fowkes: String Bass; Robert Garcia: Drums; Orange Kellin: Clarinet; Jon-Erik Kellso: Cornet; Brad Shigeta: Trombone; Terry Waldo: Piano.

Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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