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Jos. F. Lamb

josepp 06 Dec 10 - 10:36 PM
Beer 06 Dec 10 - 11:28 PM
Will Fly 07 Dec 10 - 04:15 AM
Will Fly 07 Dec 10 - 04:21 AM
Artful Codger 07 Dec 10 - 04:24 AM
Will Fly 07 Dec 10 - 04:36 AM
josepp 07 Dec 10 - 12:18 PM
Artful Codger 07 Dec 10 - 04:36 PM
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Subject: Jos. F. Lamb
From: josepp
Date: 06 Dec 10 - 10:36 PM

One of America's great musical geniuses who has been all but forgotten and yet how could anyone forget this?

American Beauty

1913 piano roll


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Beer
Date: 06 Dec 10 - 11:28 PM

Wow!! That is great.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 04:15 AM

Guitarist Dave Laibman tells the story of Samuel Charters and his wife who, after wondering what had become of Lamb, finally tracked him down to his house in New York in the 1950s. He was astonished to think that anyone was interested in him after all the years since ragtime was popular, and several unpublished and unrecorded compositions came to light.

"American Beauty" is very nice but, to my mind, his greatest composition was Bohemia Rag. Note the spot-on tempo in this live performance. So much ragtime is played far too fast...


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 04:21 AM

Here's an example of what happens to Lamb's "Bohemia Rag" when the tempo is just too fast. Lots of spirit, granted, but the beauty of the piece gets swamped by the pyrotechnics of the pianist.


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 04:24 AM

Well, hardly forgotten by anyone familiar with the ragtime beyond Scott Joplin. Lamb has been widely anthologized, along with other "forgotten" geniuses like James Scott, James P. Johnson, Eubie Blake, Artie Matthews, Herb Nacio Brown, Zez Confrey and the most influential pre-ragtime American composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Ragtime is such fun, infectious stuff, anyone who opens his ears to it is well rewarded.

Lamb's Bohemia Rag

And another well-known piece by Lamb, The Ragtime Nightingale, which was discussed on Mudcat about a year ago (as I recall). Perhaps a bit over-ornamented here, but one of the finest renditions you'll hear.

And one of my favorite ragtime pieces, Zez Confrey's
Kitten on the Keys. Folks tend to play this like a kitten on amphetamines, but I like this more relaxed pace, when you can better pick up on the left-hand rolls, the slight swing, the triplets and the sharply syncopated but uninterrupted descent down the keyboard. At the end, the clip devolves into "Basset on the Keys"; call it whimsical improvisation.


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 04:36 AM

For anyone who's really interested in ragtime, Rudi Blesh & Harriet Janis's book "They All Played Ragtime" is an absolute must. I've got a well-thumbed and tattered first edition from 1950, but there are lots of editions available at Amazon.

Blesh was a purist and slightly scornful of the flashier piano pieces - mainly by white composers like Confrey - like "Kitten On The Keys". But, as the Codger rightly says, slowing the tempo brings out the beauty of that piece.


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: josepp
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 12:18 PM

I have Guido Neilson's Lamb compilation and a few Lamb pieces by Reginald Robinson. I got Reginald's directly from Reginald while Chris Ware out of Chicago sent me Neilson's, which I like very much. It's a forgotten music to most Americans.


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Subject: RE: Jos. F. Lamb
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Dec 10 - 04:36 PM

This music was played in cathouses and other establishments of dubious repute, for the entertainment of the masses. It was flashy music, and the bare bones shown in sheet music scores hardly gives a taste of the performers' improvisatory approach. This is clear when you listen to recordings and piano rolls of the original composers. Playing styles ran the gamut, from the relatively straightlaced Joplin to the exhuberant Blake.

Although the black influences are usually emphasized in discussing ragtime, this gives short shrift to its white, classical basis. Ragtime was fusion music, not black music later usurped by whites--Joplin himself was classically trained, mainly by a German teacher--, and as I said, Gottschalk (a white man) was exploring that fusion decades before ragtime emerged; most of the elements characterizing ragtime can be found in his compositions. So Blesh's snobbery regarding the white composers is quite misplaced. Joplin himself recommended Lamb to his publisher, John Stark--who is Blesh to argue with Joplin?

Technically, "Kitten on the Keys" belongs to the slightly later and more exploratory "novelty" era. But compare it to works like Luckey Roberts' "Pork and Beans" (1913, clearly in the ragtime era, and by a black performer), and you won't find much difference in flash, speed or spirit.


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