Tag Archives: MAx Keenlyside

GENTLY, THERE: TWO RHYTHM BALLADS BY MAX KEENLYSIDE (Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, May 31-June 2, 2018)

I don’t know what you were doing in 1991, but the young man pictured above — Canadian pianist / composer Max Keenlyside — was busy being born, which makes his remarkable talent even more remarkable.  I had the good fortune and immense pleasure of meeting and hearing Max for the first time at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, just a few days ago, and you’ll hear why I am impressed.  Here you can learn more about Max.

What struck me immediately about Max was his gracious balance of technique and taste.  He can play with incredible dexterity and skill — as fast as you could want, never faltering — but he has something much rarer, which is the understanding that quiet music, sweet sounds usually reach far deeper into our souls than do pyrotechnics.  So I bring Max to you as a subtle wooer, a creator of inviting worlds of sound — specifically, his performances of two “rhythm ballads.” That’s an archaic term, and I don’t know who coined it, but it comes from the Thirties, where musicians played a tender song and made sure to send the emotions to the listeners, but kept a danceable pulse going all the time.

A few words about the music.  IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON, by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, is one of my favorite songs, and I wrote about it here.  I invite you to read that post — skip my prose if you’re in a hurry — but listen to Cliff Edwards and Dick McDonough, performing not only the chorus but the verse. But for now, Max, gently proceeding through the song, with a few nods to T. Waller, honoring the melody with delight and amusement:

I’LL FOLLOW YOU, by Roy Turk and Fred Ahlert, might be known to piano scholars and Commodore Records devotees through the 1939 recording by Willie “the Lion” Smith, but I first fell in love with the song through Bing Crosby’s version when it was a new pop hit.

Here’s Max. What could be nicer than the affectionate words about his mother?

The artist Aubrey Beardsley is supposed to have told the young W.B. Yeats, “Beauty is so very difficult,” and we must imagine all the possible tones of voice those words could have been said in — but young Max already knows a great deal about making beauty alive and accessible to anyone with ears and emotions.

May your happiness increase!

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STRIDE PIANO SUMMIT in LAS VEGAS (October 18-19, 2011)

I have never wanted to go to Las Vegas, and this makes me seem even more out of touch with my culture — but this announcement made me think of another trip West.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday, October 17, 2011

4:00 – 7:00 pm – Registration / 5:30 – 7:00 pm – Welcome Reception

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

9:00 – 12:00 pm – Session 1 / Seminars:

9:00 – John Royen

10:00 – Mike Lipskin

11:00 – Dick Hyman

2:00 – 5:00 pm – Session 2 / Solo Sets

2:00 – Brian Holland

2:45 – Carl Sonny Leyland

3:30 – Paul Asaro

4:15 – Dick Hyman

7:30 – 10:00 pm – Session 3 /  Evening Concert

John Royen,  Mike Lipskin,  Jeff Barnhart,  Neville Dickie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

9:00 – 12:00 pm – Session 4 /  Generation Next

9:00 – Martin Spitznagel

9:35 – Will Perkins

10:10 – Stephanie Trick

10:45 – Max Keenlyside

11:20 – Dalton Ridenhour

2:00 – 5:00 pm – Session 5 /  Solo Sets

 2:00 – Mike Lipskin

2:45 – Jeff Barnhart

3:30 – John Royen

4:15 – Neville Dickie

5:30 – 7:00 pm – Farewell Reception

7:30 – 10:00 pm – Session 6 /  Evening Concert

Paul Asaro, Carl Sonny Leyland,  Brian Holland,  Dick Hyman

This rollicking event is being put on by BEYOND RAGTIME PRODUCTIONS, and if you visit their site, http://www.beyondragtime.com/, you can find out everything you need to know about signing up for the event, and a variety of “packages” that sound more than comfortable.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see how many frequent flyer miles I’ve amassed.  And if you feel the ground rumbling beneath your feet in October, it’s just the Stride Piano Event, seismic murmurs of the best kind.  Maybe someone will perform my favorite thing (one of many), IF DREAMS COME TRUE in three tempos.  Or, if this event is wildly successful, how about an East Coast version with Mark Shane, Ehud Asherie, and Henry Thins Francis . . . or a bicoastal extravaganza with Chris Dawson, Ray Skjelbred, and others?  I can dream, can’t I?