Max Keenlyside at the 2018 Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival. Photograph by Stoptime Photo.
The young Canadian piano wizard Max Keenlyside is a fine player and composer, and we had a delightful brief meeting in person at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, where he played an untitled and incomplete Joplin piece that I’ve titled FRAGMENTS OF JOPLIN. Music here:
I didn’t catch it all on video, but Max told me later that Joplin’s widow, Lottie, gave Brun Campbell a photo of Joplin at the piano, where there is visible part of an otherwise unknown Joplin composition, which Max transcribed, played, and amplified on. (Max also told me that “the full story was written about at length, I think, by Chris Ware in an issue of The Ragtime Ephemeralist, which surely must now be as rare as hens’ teeth.”)
Max’s musical range is broad, as you will see and hear, and I think it’s splendid that he might allow audience members to pick the program from his list. One he chose was James P. Johnson’s romp, RIFFS:
His next piece, Harold Arlen’s lovely IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON, so captivated me that I posted it right after the Festival — but since I can’t be sure that everyone’s already enjoyed it, I post it here again. Fats peeks in now and again, but it’s all Max:
Then, some Morton episodes, always welcome. First, THE PEARLS, which encapsulates the Master at the piano:
and from the Library of Congress recordings, SPANISH SWAT
A properly vigorous TIGER RAG, complete with elbow:
To conclude the set, a new composition by Max, which he explains, THE RED MOON:
And not incidentally, the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival will take place next year from May 29 to June 1, 2019. I’ll tell you more about it as I know . . . because I plan to be in Sedalia, Missouri, for that weekend of joy.
May your happiness increase!