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Neo-Ragtime / Dykstra

Dykstra
Release Date: 02/28/2012 
Label:  Centaur Records   Catalog #: 3161  
Composer:  Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen WarnerCarolyn Gadiel WarnerJames UmbleKyra Kester,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



DYKSTRA Cordova Rag. Old Powell Rag. The National Pastime. Curly Maple Rag. Lancashire Rag. Lemon Grass Rag. Mixon Hall Rag. Meant to Be. Belle Rag. Kokopelli’s Rag. Interlude. Umgawa Rag. Delphinium Rag. Spring Beauties. Love Song: Woman in a Large Straw Hat, Gardening. A Rag for New Orleans, September 2005. Rio Rag. Little Waltz for My Beautiful Daughter. Sunny Trails Rag. Caffeinated Rag. Let’s Go Together. A Winter Waltz. Hopeful Rag. 2-Sided Rag. Pastorale. Bold Adventures. November’s Rag. Here in My Heart. Greater Liberation Rag Stephen Read more Warner (vn); Greg Banaszek, James Umble (alto saxophone); Robert Woolfrey (cl); Katherine DeJongh (fl, alto flute); Kyra Kester (pic); Barrick Stees (bn); Carolyn Gadiel Warner, Brian Dykstra (pn) CENTAUR 3161/62 (2 CDs: 123:28)


Brian Dykstra, a name formerly unknown to me, has apparently been writing new rags for several decades. He has a B.S. in piano from Juilliard and a master’s and doctorate in piano from the Eastman School of Music. He also attended the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg as a Fulbright scholar, and is now an emeritus professor of piano at the College of Wooster, Ohio, after having taught there 1969–2007. Therefore it is my bound duty to inform our readers that he is not the same Brian Dykstra who is a New York playwright, author, actor, and slam poet.


His rag Spring Beauties has appeared on a potpourri CD of that name on Koch 7440, and an entire CD of his rags, performed by pianist Noel Lester, appeared on Centaur 2662 in 2004. The assisting musicians on this recording are members of the Cleveland Orchestra and other wind players from Ohio orchestras and music institutes.


I was immediately delighted by the first CD, which contains chamber-ensemble rags. Dykstra uses the ragtime structure as the basis for personal expression, not as a form of retro-imitation. Most of these concert rags run between four-and-a-half and six-and-a-half minutes long, and are multitempoed as well as multithemed. The National Pastime and the final section of Old Powell Rag sound closest to the classic rags of Joseph Lamb or Scott Joplin. Curly Maple Rag has a more insinuous, loping beat, more like early jazz than ragtime in its first section; the second, at a quicker tempo, is more rag-like. Dykstra’s harmonic language, though essentially tonal, has many moments of spiky or bitonal chords, and his melodic structure is often more long-lined than in the rags of Joplin or Lamb. If anything, in fact, his melodies remind me of a cross between the ragtime idiom and the cool jazz of the early 1950s. Moreover, the presence of so many classically trained wind players, especially the pure, almost vibratoless tone of alto saxists Greg Banaczek and James Umble, lends an air of very cool hipness to the proceedings. On the first CD the only non-rag piece, Interlude , almost sounds like an American Indian lament; but then the following piece, Umgawa Rag, begins with a theme that sounds less like ragtime than anything else on the disc, though the tempo soon picks up (and drops again) before a whirlwind finale that borrows a bit of its melody from Turkey in the Straw.


Dykstra has more surprises in store for us in the solo piano disc. Delphinium Rag moves with a beat much closer to stride piano than ragtime, not only in the left hand but in the lightly swinging right hand as well, and even the middle section, which sounds closer to ragtime, has a more lilting and modern feel. Echoes of James P. Johnson and early Fats Waller abound in its pages. Spring Beauties won first prize at the 1997 composition of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation; in a minor key, Dykstra’s own keyboard style, once again, blurs the line between ragtime and jazz. Here, in fact, the bass has moving or “rolling” lines that almost suggest the music of Jelly Roll Morton or early boogie-woogie. (I am particularly reminded of the opening chorus of Morton’s composition Freakish. ) Love Song: Woman in a Large Straw Hat, Gardening is in fact not a rag but a medium-tempo love song, almost in pop structure. Other non-rag compositions on CD 2 are Little Waltz, A Winter Waltz, Here in My Heart, and the gently relaxed yet polytonal 6/8 Pastorale. In A Rag for New Orleans, September 2005, Dykstra stays mostly to a charming if somewhat low-key melody, but then darkens the final section with thick chords before breaking off abruptly. The final notes, played very softly, are a snippet from When the Saints go Marching In. In Rio Rag, Dykstra flirts with samba rhythm in the opening section, a quick habanera rhythm in later sections. There are other delights to hear in the pieces that follow, all of them delightful and most of them thought-provoking as well. There are so many little surprises here, like the unexpectedly dainty ending of Caffeinated Rag, that it would be space-consuming to describe them all.


I would, however, like to mention that, in addition to being an interesting creator of rags, Dykstra is also an effective programmer. He knows how to sequence these various pieces in such a way that the listener is never lulled into a sense of complacency by succeeding pieces that seem too much alike. Not only moods, but also keys, are effectively contrasted in the succession of works on these discs. What more can I say? Centaur has scored again with yet another surprising rose for its growing bouquet of releases.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Cordova Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
2.
Old Powell Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
3.
The National Pastime by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
4.
Curly Maple Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
5.
Lancashire Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
6.
Lemon Grass Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
7.
Mixon Hall Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
8.
Meant To Be by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
9.
Belle Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
10.
Kokopelli's Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
11.
Interlude by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
12.
Umgawa Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Stephen Warner (Violin), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (Piano), James Umble (Saxophone),
Kyra Kester (Piccolo), Katherine DeJongh (Flute), Greg Banaszak (Alto Saxophone),
Brian Dykstra (Piano), Barrick R. Stees (Bassoon), Robert Woolfrey (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
13.
Delphinium Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
14.
Spring Beauties by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; USA 
15.
Love Song by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
16.
A Rag for New Orleans, September 2005 by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
17.
Rio Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
18.
Little Waltz for My Beautiful Daughter by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
19.
Sunny Trails Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
20.
Caffeinated Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
21.
Let's Go Together by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
22.
A Winter Waltz by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
23.
Hopeful Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
24.
Two-Sided Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
25.
Pastorale by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
26.
Bold Adventures by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
27.
November's Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
28.
Here in My Heart by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)
29.
Greater Liberation Rag by Brian Dykstra
Performer:  Brian Dykstra (Piano)

Sound Samples

Cordova Rag
Old Powell Rag
The National Pastime
Curly Maple Rag
Lancashire Rag
Lemongrass Rag
Mixon Hall Rag
Meant to Be
Belle Rag
Kokopelli's Rag
Interlude
Umgawa Rag
Delphinium Rag
Spring Beauties
Love Song: Woman in a Large Straw Hat, Gardening
A Rag for New Orleans, September 2005
Rio Rag
Little Waltz for My Beautiful Daughter
Sunny Trails Rag
Caffeinated Rag
Let's Go Together
A Winter Waltz
Hopeful Rag
Two-Sided Rag
Pastorale
Bold Adventures
November's Rag
Here in My Heart
Greater Liberation Rag

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