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New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra: Grace And Beauty

Mike Neely By

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In 1967, Swedish pianist, Lars Edegran, discovered a cache of early 20th century orchestrated ragtime music on a visit to New Orleans. John Robichaux was the arranger of this mysterious sheet music. Luckily for us, Lars Edegran knew a good thing when he saw it, resulting in the formation of the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra. Shortly, the NORO was a regular musical presence in New Orleans, toured the world, and eventually in 1978 provided the background music for the Hollywood movie "Pretty Baby." Delmark Records has combined and re-issued the Orchestra’s two sessions originally recorded for the Pearl label.

Grace And Beauty features ragtime compositions published between 1900 and 1915 by some of the most famous ragtime composers: Scott Joplin, Tom Turpin, Joseph Lamb, and James Scott, among others. As arranged and played on this recording, this is music of a bygone world. This is the world of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town before World War I whirled away this age of innocence.

There is a surreal quality to this intriguing music, as Charles Ives surmised; it is calm and assured and knows exactly what it is doing and where it is going. It is also fragile music, as fragile as the eerie sound of the violinist William Russell navigating among the more robust horns. This is a band with the politest of rhythm sections. The clarinet and horns move gracefully above the bass and drums as the beautifully simple compositions unfold with their own sense of time. It is the time of our grandparents and great- grandparents and Grace And Beauty will bring you there, but only if you can let go of your worries, at least for a little while. This is odd, wonderful music.

Track Listing: St.Louis Tickle; Contentment-A Rag; Dusty Rag; Reindeer Rag; Sensation-A Rag; Original Rags;Tres Moutarde; Sunburst Rag; Scott Joplin's New Rag; Grace And Beauty; Panama Rag; Ethiopia Rag; Pastime Rag-A Slow Drag; Elite Syncopations; Creole Belles; Pleasant Moments; The Chrysanthemum; A Rag-Time Nightmare.

Personnel: William Russel, violin; Andrew Anderson, trumpet; Paul Crawford, trombone; Orange Kellin, clarinet; Lars Edegran, piano; Clement Tervalon,bass; Josiah "Cie" Frazier,drums. Allan Jaffe plays tuba on one cut. Lionel Ferbos on trumpet and James Prevost on bass during the 1970 sessions.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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