COMPACT DISC REVIEW
Sam Post, piano
(No label, no number)
Dizzy Days / Graceful Ghost, take 1 / Raggin’ Rudi / Leapfrog / Lemur / Ladybug / Gladiolus Rag / Phone-tag / Mournful / Dusk / Kinhaven Sonata finale* / Graceful Ghost, take 2 / RAGTIME REFLECTIONS (9 tracks). (*with Lauren Cook, clarinet)
Let me start by saying this CD by Sam Post is the most unusually-structured recording I have ever encountered. The first 12 tracks are piano solos (and one duet); the last 9 tracks, however, are spoken – and in his view “opinionated” – commentary.
Post is a 28-year-old classically trained artist who has performed with various orchestras and currently directs his own chamber ensemble. Three years ago he “fell in love with ragtime” and, having studied jazz piano, has since focused on ways to enliven classic rags, especially on their sectional repeats. With the exceptions of William Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost and Raggin’ Rudi and Scott Joplin’s Gladiolus Rag, the remaining compositions on this disc are his own, which feature much counterpoint and are quite inventive.
His “ragtime reflections” section is definitely thought-provoking. Having eschewed Joshua Rifkin’s performances of Joplin as too staid, Post credits his new-found affair with ragtime to hearing a heavily swung piano roll of Joplin’s The Entertainer, purportedly cut by the composer himself. While I don’t deny the allure of the swing rhythm, his historical context is misguided. Two noted piano roll collectors have assured me that Joplin never recorded The Entertainer and swing rhythm didn’t start to appear on rolls until well after his death in 1917.
On a whim, Post initiated a written correspondence with Bolcom and has interpreted Bolcom’s somewhat ambiguous response as encouragement for some jazz-inspired improvisations (as if encouragement was needed, since many artists have been doing this for years). He then goes on to explain how he came up with his variations, the inspirations for three of his pieces (Phone-tag, Mournful and Dusk) and other insights into his compositional techniques. While I didn’t always agree with his conclusions, his knowledge of music theory far exceeds my own and I found his comments to be illuminating.
Sam Post is a prodigious talent and certainly has a promising future. To the student of ragtime, this is a recording that warrants repeated listenings. To the concert-goer or casual aficionado of ragtime, this CD will be mostly a curiosity.
Available for the suggested postpaid price of $10.00 from <www.samueljpost.com>. Also available from Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes.