Luckey Roberts

Ragtime King

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Luckey Roberts was among the first jazz pianists to be recorded in the early days of the 20th century, and although he was a monster player who was a favorite among his fellow musicians, he recorded but a few dates in a career that lasted over 40 years. This 1958 session was among his last as a performer; it was originally issued by Period as Happy Go Lucky. An added disappointment is that his he holds back his tremendous stride chops to give the producer what he wanted, a lukewarm form of ragtime on an inferior piano preferred by the public during its revival in that time frame. That's not to say the music is without merit; the songs all have appeal to fans of ragtime and classic jazz. Garvin Bushell doubles on alto sax and clarinet (he's stronger on the latter instrument), with bassist Joe Benjamin (who has several strong solos) and drummer Herbert Cowans (who sticks to brushes, but has a brief solo or two). But anyone who has heard Roberts as a solo pianist playing his own challenging compositions will hardly be awed by the rather reserved arrangements of "St. Louis Blues," "Honeysuckle Rose," or "I'm Just Wild About Harry." Last available as an Everest LP in the 1970s, this record will be difficult to find.