Marcus Roberts

The Joy of Joplin

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This is an odd solo piano recital by Marcus Roberts that is sure to upset ragtime purists. Instead of really conveying "the joy of Scott Joplin," Roberts merely uses some of the ragtime composer's melodies as vehicles for his own improvising. The results are often quite jarring, as Roberts feels free to change notes in the themes, alter the speeds, and just use chordal improvising. In addition to eight of Joplin's songs, Roberts contributed eight of his own that mostly have little to do with the structure of ragtime. Hearing his renditions of "The Entertainer," "Maple Leaf Rag," and "The Easy Winners" is analogous to hearing a classical pianist "take off" on a Beethoven symphony, playing spontaneously whatever he thinks fits. This CD is therefore only for listeners with very selective tastes.

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