Whipped Cream Rag & Other Syncopated Delights
“Perfessor” Bill Edwards, piano
Siggnal CD 127
Gee, But I Like Music With My Meals / Eatin’ Time Rag / Apple Sass Rag / Hot Chocolate Rag / Coffee Rag / Fizz Water / Lemons and Limes / Sour Grapes / Bunch O’ Blackberries / Cranberry Stomp / Banana Peel Rag / Red Pepper (A Spicy Rag) / Fried Chicken / Good Gravy Rag / From Soup to Nuts / Chicken Chowder / Beets and Turnips / Très Moutarde (Too Much Mustard) / Ketchup Rag / Honey Rag / Chili Sauce / Whipped Cream Rag / All the Candy / Angel Food Rag.
Those who recall the recordings of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass may laugh out loud upon seeing the cover of “Perfessor” Bill Edwards’ latest CD. However, once you get past this very clever spoof of the Brass’s famous 1965 “whipped cream” cover (sorry, Bill, you’re just not as sexy as she was!), some great ragtime awaits. The disc is also enhanced to show additional information and cover art when inserted into your computer.
Edwards has plowed deeply in the field of “food rags” to harvest some little-known delicacies, many of which are making their first appearance on CD anywhere, and he has created a musical menu, complete with sections devoted to appetizers, beverages, fruit and salad, entrees, condiments and desserts. What connections actually exist between the compositions and their culinary titles is an issue that has eluded historians, although Edwards raises that very question in his illuminating liner notes and attempts an answer that is quite sensible.
The music was digitally recorded and the sound is that of a high quality electronic keyboard. Tempos vary, with a mix of mostly medium cuts interspersed with a couple of slow rags and several fast ones (including two well-known one-steps, Fizz Water [Eubie Blake] and Très Moutarde [Cecil Macklin]), thus providing variety that is welcome. Dynamics are there and offer appropriate contrasts (although favoring fortes more often than not). Improvisations are tasteful and always seem to reinforce the compositions.
A vocal with clever lyrics primes the palate for a wide selection of instrumental entrees. I especially liked Lemons and Limes (Cora Salisbury), with its cascading thirds, and the novelty piano sounds of Beets and Turnips (Cliff Hess & Fred Ahlert), but I also favored Hot Chocolate Rag (Melvin Franklin & Arthur Lange), All the Candy (E. Harry Kelly) and Angel Food Rag (Al Marzian). Special mention should be made of Ketchup Rag (Irene Giblin), which is interpreted in a slow and introspective manner with occasional passages of grandeur; to have included one or two more similar cuts would truly have been icing on the cake!
All selections date from 1899-1915, with the sole exception of Cranberry Stomp (Sue Keller, 1983), indicating that food-christened titles may have been a fad of the early ragtime era. Whatever is/was the case, Bill Edwards has assembled a musical cornucopia of solid ragtime that is more than worthy of consideration.
Available for $15.00 postpaid from Bill Edwards at www.perfessorbill.com.