Animal Fair by River Raisin Ragtime Revue

River Raisin Ragtime Revue, Animal Fair: Ragtime Music for Children and the Young at Heart.  Recorded July 14-17, 2013.

William Pemberton;  Director and tuba, Clark Irwin; trumpet, Robert Lindahl; trombone, Chaterine McMichael; piano, Rod McDonald; banjo, Andre Dowell; percussion, Priscilla Johnson, Barbara Sturgis-Everett; violins, Susan Schreiber; viola, Irina Tikhonova; cello, Laura Wyman; flute.

This latest recording by the River Raisin Ragtime Revue is a fun-filled CD of 21 Rags and popular dance tunes from the first two decades of the last century along with one original composition, Warthog Sride (2013), by the group’s pianist, Catherine McMichael.  The program captures the spirit of that early period with the ragtime repertoire and its rollicking gaiety, animal sounds, and general silliness. This is all projected with wonderful musical precision and spirited playing. Most of the composers of these tunes have been relegated to obscurity but some of the more well-known musicians include Fats Waller, Joseph Lamb and James Reese Europe.  There are some transcriptions including an arrangement of a 1917 recording of Tiger Rag transcribed by Wycliffe Gordon and an arrangement of Alligator Crawl transcribed from Louis Armstrong’s famous 1927 “Hot Five” recordings.  Some other tunes from this musical menagerie are Rooster Rag, Grizzly Bear Rag, Teasing the Cat, Animal Fair, Elephant Rag, Kitten on the Keys, Honky Tonky Money Rag and many others.

Another fine recording by the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, the listener is offered a view of a simpler and less jaded world. They have happily brought back to life many great rags and other tunes that still have the power to please.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum