183

New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra: Grace and Beauty

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra: Grace and Beauty Ragtime’s place as a precursor to Jazz is well documented in the history books. The style’s rhythmic syncopations still retain a tenacious influence on creative improvised music. But listening to the music’s often stiff and structured patterns reveals the distance Jazz has come in terms of thematic variation since its beginnings. The gap between the music’s nascency and it’s current melodic, harmonic and rhythmic richness is brought into bold relief by the experiments of the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, a moniker affectionately truncated by the band into the acronym NORO.

Seeking to revitalize public interest in ragtime forms Lars Edegran, NORO’s erstwhile leader, immersed himself in the antique orchestral charts of early 20th century ragtime bandleader John Robichaux. Infusing an underlying New Orleans rhythmic energy into their often-rigid architectures he created a hybrid music that attempted to capitalize on the strengths of both styles. With the aid of violinist William Russell he then organized an elite band of seasoned veteran musicians assist in to bring the music to the public, the biggest coup among them the great trap drummer Cie Frazier.

The experiment in crossbreeding turns out to be something of a qualified success. The pieces are frequently short and sweet sticking to the 78 rpm time strictures of their original recorded incarnations. Most arrangements emphasize violin and horns as lead voices and each of the musicians plays his respective parts well. Where the tunes falter down is in the wistful homogeneity that seems to plague them. Even the regular injections of Frazier’s sly snare and bass drum accents can’t save many of them from falling into the rut of rote recitation. Ragtime was always a sentimental music and here the sentiment seems a little claustrophobic with Russell’s saccharine-tinged violin the frequent culprit. The charts are played beautifully, with an admirable attention to detail, but in the end the drawbacks of Ragtime priggishness end up punching holes in the hull of the NORO ship. Considering how the music was originally reviled by the upper crust establishment as a symbol of uncouth and hedonistic excess it’s anemic nature in modern terms is made all the more ironic.

Delmark on the web: http://www.delmark.com


Track Listing: St. Louis Tickle/ Contentment- A Rag/ Dusty Rag/ Reindeer Rag/ Sensation- A Rag/ Original Rags/ Tr

Personnel: William Russell- violin; Andrew Anderson- trumpet; Paul Crawford- trombone; Orange Kellin- clarinet; Lars Edegran- piano; Clement Tervalon- bass; Josiah

Title: Grace and Beauty | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Free Radicals" CD/LP/Track Review Free Radicals
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "Code Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Code Noir
by James Nadal
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Moldy Figs" CD/LP/Track Review Moldy Figs
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Outside The Comfort Zone" CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "So Cute, So Bad" CD/LP/Track Review So Cute, So Bad
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.