Short reviews of the latest releases from these masters. Continue reading
Since passing through these parts last summer, Tom McDermott has traversed the northern half of the Americas, playing concerts in exotic locales from Alaska to Costa Rica, but it was an encounter with a hero from his youth in the relatively unexotic Twin Cities that left a lasting
impression on the New Orleans pianist and helped reshape his repertoire.
“I went and visited my childhood idol, maybe my first childhood idol after my mom, pianistically speaking,” says McDermott, who has enjoyed much-deserved wider exposure since his
appearances on the hit HBO series Treme. “That was Max Morath. He was Mister Ragtime. His career started in the fifties, and it went strong till the nineties. Now he’s retired.”
Little did Morath, born in Colorado Springs in 1926, know it, but he helped shape McDermott’s approach to playing ragtime and, for that matter, everything else he’s tackled along the way. This Saturday, at the Outpost, McDermott will offer a smorgasbord of syncopation via his
distinctively charming and astonishingly double-jointed pianism. Continue reading
Getting Better All the Time
In 1996, while in New Orleans for jazz fest, I picked up a copy of Offbeat magazine and
discovered a well-written article about one of my favorite piano players from that city, the late James Booker. I thought I had all the legally available recordings, but the article mentioned two German LPs that I had never heard of. Even better, they were solo performances, so there would be no half-assed sidemen gumming up the works.
I did what any self-respecting obsessionist would do: I looked up the writer in the phone book and placed the call. (My wife still can’t believe I did that, and I still can’t figure out why she feels that way.) When he answered, I thanked him for the article and inquired if he would be willing, since the LPs were not available in the States, to record them for me if I supplied the cassette tapes.