Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jazz Performance Saturday - "Maple Leaf Rag" - Neville Dickie

On the first Saturday of the month piano performances are the focus. Since George A. Borgman was a friend of the British pianist Neville Dickie and since he will be performing in Massachusetts this month on the 12th, let's look at a video I took of Neville Dickie playing Maple Leaf Rag from a private performance he gave while giving a talk on the history of jazz piano in 2014.
Scott Joplin c. June 1903
Scott Joplin, most likely the greatest ragtime piano composer, wrote Maple Leaf Rag early in his career. It was copyrighted on September 8, 1899. It became a sensation and the model for most ragtime compositions afterwards. Over the next twenty years Joplin wrote about four dozen ragtime piano compositions. Although quotes of how many pieces of the sheet music sold may have been an exaggerated the Maple Leaf Rag still out sold every other musical piece that John Stark published and Joplin survived on the royalties from it until his death in 1917.
Neville Dickie was born on January 1, 1937 in Durham Co., England. He played in pubs, clubs and taverns for many years. He then began a long stint of BBC radio appearances which made him a household name. In 1969 he had a hit single The Robins Return and in 1975 his album Back To Boogie sold over a 100,000 copies.
Here's a small sampling of some of what George A. Borgman had to say about Dickie.
Neville Dickie is a world renowned stride and boogie-woogie pianist from Surrey, England. He is known worldwide in festival, concert and recording circles as a gentle giant of stride piano and also a giant among boogie piano players. His strong left hand provides a steady boogie ostinato while the right hand emits delightful melodic variations. 
George wrote an extensive article on Dickie for The Mississippi Rag and was also invited to write the liner notes for one of Dickie's CDs.

Upon George's death Dickie wrote, "My first meeting with George was when he interviewed me for the Mississippi Rag in 1998. He didn’t do anything by half, and thoroughly researched his subject. Proof of this was an 18 page booklet he wrote for one of my CDs. Earlier this year (2009) he told me he wasn’t in good health but he was determined he and Janet would be at the Sherborn in August to see my performance with Stan McDonald – that was the last time I saw him. George loved the dry English sense of humour and he laughed at many of the stories I told him. It was a privilege to know this wonderful man."
So now watch and listen to Neville Dickie speaking about and playing Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.

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