April 1st, 2017 is the one-hundred-year anniversary of Scott Joplin’s death. I attended the Mississippi State University Library’s annual Ragtime Jazz Festival featuring music’s transition from ragtime to jazz.
LIke my grandparents, I had a chance to view a silent movie. “Seven Chances” featured Buster Keaton’s hilarious race from 500 prospective brides when he had to marry to receive an inheritance of seven million dollars. Jeff Barnhart accompanied the film with an impassioned piano medley like pianists employed by theaters in the days before “talkies” surfaced.
At the concert that evening, I listened to piano pieces made famous by Jellyroll Morton, Fats Waller, and Scott Joplin played by renowned pianists Jeff Barnhart and Brian Holland. Both have played all over the world.
The five-man jazz band included a piano, trombone, cornet, drums, clarinet, and saxophone. Drums and the piano player’s fingers and furiously tapping foot kept the band rocking the theater. The band leader even played the clarinet and the saxophone during the same number.