COMPACT DISC REVIEW
Ann Gibson, vocals; Frederick Hodges, piano
I Wants a
Ping Pong Man / The Dance of the Grizzly Bear /
Alexander’s Ragtime Band / Everybody’s Doing It Now / The Oceana Roll /
Ragtime Cowboy Joe / Row, Row, Row / Snookey Ookums / That
International Rag /
Aba Daba Honeymoon / I Want To Go Back To Michigan / Hello, Frisco! /
Only Had My Disposition / I Love A Piano / The Dixie Volunteers / When
Takes His Ragtime Band to
It is not possible to appreciate the effect of The Ragtime Years
That noted, this collection by Ann Gibson, spanning the years 1903-1919, contains not only the biggest hits of the period but also a scattering of lesser-known gems, and their clever lyrics touch on a variety of subjects, including love and courtship, World War I, impending Prohibition and, in some cases, ragtime music itself. Gibson has the perfect voice for these songs, whether she is playing the cuddly sweetheart or the fervent nationalist, and she has wisely chosen to eschew any demeaning dialects or racial drawls.
Hodges’ piano stylings add immensely to these selections. When accompanying Gibson, he remains discreetly in the background with only occasional filigrees to fill between her lines, but he leaps to the forefront when called upon to take a piano solo, embellishing the melody but never abandoning it. (As listeners, we often concentrate so much on the lyrics that we need to be reminded what lovely melodies these songs have!) Together, as interpreters of The Ragtime Song, they have become the act to beat.
The sound is pristine and the voice is always front-and-center, never overpowered by the piano accompaniment. The graphics are elegant and the liner notes, which include some thumbnail-sized sheet music covers, give the complete history of every song as well as brief bios of the duo. Ann Gibson and Frederick Hodges clearly love this music, which has resulted in a first-rate production.
Available for $17.00 postpaid from <www.frederickhodges.com>.