Some musicologists have argued that ragtime, not Dixieland, was the first form of jazz, but that assertion is incorrect because ragtime was never improvisation-oriented -- and improvisation, like blues feeling, is a main ingredient of jazz. However, ragtime was a major influence on early jazz piano; Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and similar pianists who were popular in the '20s were certainly well aware of Scott Joplin's legacy. So was Paul Lingle, who was primarily a stride pianist but had a strong ragtime influence and could play ragtime when called upon to do so. A collection of live performances from late 1951, Live at the Jug Club is a jazz CD first and foremost, but demonstrates that Lingle never lost his love of ragtime; the ragtime influence is quite strong whether he is embracing Morton's "Black Bottom Stomp" or Harry Warren's "September in the Rain." These recordings were made in an Oakland, CA, club in 1951, and while the sound quality isn't great, it is decent (by early-'50s standards) and captures Lingle's vitality. Regrettably, Lingle wasn't documented nearly as much as he should have been, which is why his Jug Club performances (originally released on the Euphonic Sounds label) are so important to fans. Those old Euphonic LPs are hard to find, and this Delmark release marks the first time that any of his Jug recordings have been heard on CD. How appropriate that these performances would make their CD debut on Bob Koester's label; Koester might have a reputation for being a real curmudgeon at times, but his love of jazz and blues obviously runs deep -- and leave it to Delmark to rescue worthwhile recordings from total obscurity. Despite its imperfect sound quality, Live at the Jug Club is easily recommended to lovers of stride piano.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson