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Wally Rose: Whippin'The Keys

Nic Jones By

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Pianist Rose was an original member of Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band and played a key role in the traditional jazz revival of the decade immediately after the end of World War Two. This CD documents another aspect of his work, namely that of solo ragtime piano playing. It brings together two LPs recorded in 1968 and 1971, but the music itself is essentially outside of time as, even then, the rag form was a at least a half-century old.

Age hasn't diminished it in the least, however. Something like "Blue Goose Rag" is nothing less than a glimpse into a simpler but perhaps sweeter past, with Rose's laconic way with rag syncopation to the fore, allowing the music to breathe. He does the same on "Scott Joplin's New Rag," and this one is also evidence of how Rose wasn't one for reverence in its coldest, most unappetizing form. It's evident instead that he's playing the music out of genuine love.

"American Beauty Rag" is a nice variation on the formula, the slightly more measured tempo allowing the melody to emerge in a way it otherwise might not have. That variation stems as much from Rose's intimate knowledge of the form as anything else and that point is brought home on "Pastime Rag #4," where Rose tops and tails the phrasing like a man to the manner born.

The rather mannered "Pickles & Peppers" comes off as well as it might, thanks in no small part to the deftness of Rose's touch. "Cannonball Rag," which immediately follows, it is another example of Rose as an acute judge of tempo, as again he takes it at just the right one, giving the music light and space sufficient to lift the heaviest heart.

This is essentially another act of cultural retrieval from Delmark, and for that we have to be grateful for their independence of both status and mind. Put this music on when the sun is high in the sky and there's a cooling breeze blowing and some everyday cares might just melt away.

Track Listing: Whippin' The Keys; Ragtime Dance; Blue Goose Rag; The Kangaroo Hop; Scott Joplin's New Rag; Rags To Burn; Ragtime Oriole; The Hobble Rag; Cleopatra Rag; American Beauty Rag; The Lion Tamer Rag; Peace & Plenty Rag; St. Louis Rag; Pastime Rag; New Era Rag; Pickles & Peppers; Cannonball Rag; Junk Man Rag; Elite Syncopations; Jamaica Jinger Rag; St. Louis Tickle.

Personnel: Wally Rose: piano.

Title: Whippin'The Keys | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Delmark Records


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