Ed Claypoole

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Ed Claypoole's name has been just as often mutated into Ed Claypole by bleary-eyed typesetters as his elaborate piano compositions were mangled and bungled by parlor players squinting at the sheet music.…
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Ed Claypoole's name has been just as often mutated into Ed Claypole by bleary-eyed typesetters as his elaborate piano compositions were mangled and bungled by parlor players squinting at the sheet music. Claypoole was one of the best known and most influential composers from a period of American musical history when sheet music vastly outsold recordings and the ragtime genre was insanely popular, although few fans could actually explain what made a piece of music ragtime. Claypoole's specialty was not rhythms but florid displays of keyboard virtuosity, certainly an aspect of the genre. His "Ragging the Scale," written in 1915 was, for a period, the one to copy for composers who lacked imagination of their own, faced some kind of deadline, and heard the call for more and more ragtime sheet music, most likely coming from directly outside their cubicle doors. A pianist who had made serious use of parlor practice time would very likely choose a Claypoole piece when it was time for a display of chops. "Bouncing on the Keys" was another of the composer's sheet music challenges, although a too literal interpretation of the title might subsequently require a visit from the piano tuner. By 1929, Claypoole had stretched his imagination to the realm of "Oriental Fantasy," yet it is the somewhat earlier, decidedly more down-home "Alabama Jigger" that has received the most cover-version recordings over the years. These include one by pianist Max Morath, which received wide exposure on the coattails of the first Scott Joplin revival in the '70s. These recordings by other artists are the places to really hear Claypoole's music, since he was really a sheet music, not recording studio, type of guy. The Tom Lord Jazz Discography lists him appearing on only one recording as a pianist during his entire career.