Ralph Sutton

Ragtime U.S.A.

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Although the subtitle to this Roulette LP from 1963 implies that Ralph Sutton is playing the favorite themes of great ragtime pianists, it actually includes music by masters of stride piano and boogie-woogie as well, with very little ragtime at all. Sutton is equally adept in all of these fields and the focus of the album, though bassist Jack Lesberg and drummer Buzzy Drootin (who sticks to brushes) pretty much play strictly supporting roles, though each gets some room to stretch out in "Wolverine Blues." Sutton is especially at the top of his game covering the music of the stride players, including a dancing treatment of Fats Waller's "Alligator Crawl" and a relaxing, melodic arrangement of Willie "The Lion" Smith's masterpiece "Echo of Spring." His take of the boogie-woogie classic "Honky Tonk Train Blues" is full of fun, while his more than does justice to Scott Joplin's famous "Maple Leaf Rag," though taking a few more liberties than its composer would have preferred. This long unavailable LP will be very tough to acquire.

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