Every style of jazz has its heroes, individuals without whom particular strains of the music wouldn’t have been born. For swing there’s Benny Goodman. The mention of Bebop instantly conjures the jovial visage of Bird. Coltrane arguably weighs heaviest in the realm of post bop. When it comes to Ragtime no other name carries as much clout as Scott Joplin. Joplin’s rags set the standard for the turn of the century popular art form, inspiring a legion of musical progeny. Among their number was Brun Campbell, a pupil of Joplin’s who tailored the teachings of mentor to his own expressive style throughout a career that spanned a half-century.
Three dozen tracks recorded in Campbell’s twilight years present a picture of pianist that is embellished by interview segments and commentary by the man himself. During the opening segment he reflects back on many of his peers, citing the legendary Charles Thompson as the finest technician of the bunch. Familiar staples like Joplin’s famous “Maple Leaf Rag” are in the minority with most of the space devoted to Campbell’s own emendations on the. Ragtime, like the blues, is a music that requires careful listening to uncover the often-subtle rhythmic and harmonic differences between compositions and players. Digested in a single sitting, much of Campbell’s repertoire blends together into a homogenous, but no less satisfying mash of music. The frequent pairing of alternate and master takes of tunes in succession further adds to the sameness of some of the stretches on the disc, but rag fiends are unlikely to be troubled by such programmatic preferences. As the performances suitably make clear, Campbell was one of the greats, and these recordings, taped by Euphonic Sounds label owner Paul Affeldt do his memory the greatest service by preserving a cross section of both his songbook and playing style. Ragtime aficionados take note; this one is a must for the collection shelves.
Track Listing: Interview With Brun/ Essay In Ragtime (master)/ Essay In Ragtime (alternate)/ Ginger Snap Rag (master)/ Ginger Snap Rag (alternate)/ Salome’s Slow Drag (master)/ Salome’s Slow Drag (alternate)/ Fragment (master)/ Fragment (alterante)/ Frankie and Johnny Rag (master)/ Frankie and Johnny Rag (alternate)/ Lulu White (master)/ Lulu White (alternate)/ Blue Rag/ Unknown #2/ Unknown #1/ Short Rag/ Unknown #3/ Tent Show Rag/ Talk/ Grandpa’s Stomp (master)/ Grandpa’s Stomp (alternate)/ Brun’s Slow Drag/ Campbell Cakewalk/ Rendezvous Rag/ Slow and Easy/ Twelfth Street Rag (master)/ Twelfth Street Rag (alternate #5)/ Twelfth Street Rag (alternate #6)/ Barber Shop Rag (master)/ Barber Shop Rag (alternate)/ Maple Leaf Rag/ Reminiscences/ Brun Reads Homage to Joplin/ Introduction to Maple Leaf Rag/ Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin Piano Roll).
Personnel: Brun Campbell- piano & vocals. Recorded: 1947.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.