Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Joseph Lamb: A Passion for Ragtime

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Joseph Lamb: A Passion for Ragtime

Article excerpt

Joseph Lamb: A Passion for Ragtime. By Carol J. Binkowski. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. 250 pages; 43 photos; List of Compositions, Selected Recordings and Folios, Additional Resources; Bibliography, Index. $35. ISBN 978-0-7864-6811-5

Vince Guaraldi at the Piano. By Derrick Bang. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. 400 pages; 36photos; Appendices, Discography, Filmography; Notes, Bibliography, Index. $45. ISBN 978-0-7864-5902-5;EbookISBN 978-0-7864-9074-5.

It was an intriguing experience to read these books back to back. Together the two men's careers span most of the twentieth century and somewhat overlap: Joseph Lamb was still composing rags in 1959, a year before he died, and the initial example that author Derrick Bang cites of Vince Guaraldi becoming a jazz force to be reckoned with was the first Monterey Jazz Festival, on 4 October 1958. Both biographies reveal a profound love and admiration for these vastly different musicians: one, a composer of a musical form that was popular primarily in the first decade of the twentieth century, but whose compositional output continued for another 50 years; the other known as both an improviser and composer of a musical form dealing with improvisation, who--in a relatively short span--still managed to give the world a host of delightful tunes and startlingly original recordings until his untimely death in 1976. The two authors copiously demonstrate the myriad events and diverse influences that contributed to the shape and identity of Lamb's and Guaraldi's individual sound.

One striking aspect of both books is the amazing amount of supporting material. The Binkowski book appears to be the first real hard copy biography of Joe Lamb. While there were several online biographies available, the end of her excellent account of Lamb's story contains a wonderful cornucopia of sources, from books of the period and places (early twentieth century New York/New Jersey), to numerous articles on ragtime and related subjects. Perhaps most importantly she lists suggested additional sources (such as online sheet music sites), folios and collections, recordings of this marvelous music, and various websites of performers who are devoted to ragtime and especially the music of Joseph Lamb. …

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