I’ve already posted some life-enhancing music from the 2013 Cline Cellars Wine and Dixieland Festival — music by the Black Diamond Blue Five (more to come) and the Ragtime Skedaddlers. But this set of solo piano by Ray Skjelbred was something special. For one thing, getting to hear unamplified “acoustic” piano out in the open air is a singular pleasure — that the Beloved and I could sit so close and that my camera was welcome was sheer bliss.
Skjelbred himself is — although he would shrug off such an appellation — a true Artist. Not only is he a fine romping pianist, mixing delicacy with propulsion, he is a quiet scholar of the music. Who else would offer us such a delicious bill of rare music by Frank Melrose, Tut Soper, and others — as well as MEMORIES OF YOU and SQUEEZE ME, classics that don’t get old, and Ray’s own wry, often hilariously tilted originals.
Here’s the music. See if I overstate!
Frank Melrose’s JEMIMA STOMP:
HOLDING THE SACK:
Ray’s National Pastime salute, THE BALLS AND STRIKES FOREVER:
Tut Soper’s IT’S A RAMBLE:
An evocation of Earl “Fatha” Hines, FATHER SWING:
Eubie’s MEMORIES OF YOU:
Ray’s own THE SAND BAG RAG:
A little SQUEEZE ME, for Fats, Joe, and Jess:
Chicago clarinetist Bud Jacobson’s LAUGHING AT YOU:
One of the nicest parts of the whole day at Cline — which was a splendid pleasure — was in walking from one site to another and hearing Ray’s piano ring out over the treetops. Not loud, not bossy, but pastoral music as it might have been played for doves and larks who know what swing is all about.
This post is for Ida Melrose, Kenrick Lee, and Kate O’Donovan — who know Ray’s generous quirky virtues in their own ways.
May your happiness increase!