COMPACT DISC REVIEW
Elite Syncopations: Favorites from the Ragtime Era
Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra
Rivermont Records BSW-2242
Ragtime Soldier Man / At a Georgia Camp Meeting / Elite Syncopations / You’re a Grand Old Flag* / Charleston Rag† / Floatin’ Down to Cotton Town / Semper Fidelis March / Fido Is a Hot Dog Now* / The Entertainer / He’d Have to Get Under, Get Out and Get Under (To Fix Up His Automobile) / Grace and Beauty / The Silver Swan† / Alexander’s Ragtime Band* / Desecration (A Rag Humoresque) / Delectation – Valse Hesitation / Jazarella / Alabama Jubilee* / Beale Street / Oh Slip It Man / Frog-I-More Rag† / At the Moving Picture Ball* / Tiger Rag.
(*Vocal; †Piano Solo)
As this CD attests, the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra has matured into a top-flight recording group in the seven short years since its founding by director Andrew Greene in 2010. Their level of talent, precision and overt enthusiasm is equal to, if not surpassing, any ragtime orchestra of its size performing today. On this, their third recording for Rivermont, the PRSO has chosen to showcase some of the better-known – and also some lesser-known – works from the “ragtime era” of the early twentieth century.
Greene favors period arrangements, bolstering them with some of his own, and the result is an entertaining and diverse playlist such as one might have heard in a city park on a warm summer evening long before the advent of television. With two notable exceptions, arrangements feature the entire ensemble throughout, with various instruments popping up here and there to take two- or four-measure solos before melding back into the ensemble – all of which are used to good advantage. An accompanying 24-page booklet of liner notes deliver a wealth of interesting information.
The exceptions certainly merit additional comment. There are three piano solos by the immensely talented Canadian artist, Max Keenlyside (Charleston Rag, The Silver Swan and Frog-I-More Rag), and a trombone novelty (Oh Slip It Man) that features the PRSO’s own slip horn man, Corey Sansolo. Also adding to the excitement are five vocals by the group’s talented tenor, William Edwards (You’re a Grand Old Flag, Fido Is a Hot Dog Now, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Alabama Jubilee and At the Moving Picture Ball).
The sound quality is excellent and all instruments can be clearly heard when called for, plus Edwards’ tenor is crystal clear, making it easy for the listener to understand the lyrics. Tempos are appropriate and there is good use of dynamics throughout. Every selection is well rendered, although two of the choices were a bit weak: Beale Street seemed overly repetitious, failing to hold my interest, and Fido Is a Hot Dog Now may alienate animal lovers when they learn that a beloved pet has been consigned to Hades.
This recording project was partially funded through internet crowdsourcing and those that contributed amounts large and small must be exceptionally pleased that Andrew Greene and the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra have delivered such a fine product. With this sort of quality to point to, the PRSO should have little trouble in finding financing for any future CD.
Available for $20.00 including shipping from www.peacherineragtime.com/store/.