Frank Froeba

Old Time Piano

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    8
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The "back room" piano style of Frank Froeba, to borrow the title from his previous Decca album, is more relaxed than ragtime and more refined than honky tonk, with brief, playful digressions from the melody that earn Froeba his classification as a jazz pianist. Old Time Piano, from 1949, collects eight piano solos in more of a nostalgic and sentimental vein than Back Room Piano, which included some boogies and blues tunes. Split evenly between waltzes and foxtrots, Old Time Piano features Froeba's renditions of chestnuts like "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "My Wild Irish Rose", and "That Old Gang of Mine," played in the "old-time way." Although credited to Frank Froeba & His Boys and labeled a collection of piano solos with rhythm accompaniment, Froeba's piano dominates, and there is little audible evidence of any accompaniment whatsoever. This was nostalgic music even in 1949, recalling the days of player pianos and parlor singalongs around the upright, back when the primary means of reproducing music was sheet music rather than recordings, and pianos were the jukeboxes of the age. Many listeners would probably regard the music on Old Time Piano as honky tonk, but Froeba's piano is well-tuned, and his precise playing is a far cry from the urgent, rhythmic style of honky tonk pianists such as Crazy Otto.