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Black Baby - Scott Joplins Ragtime by Alessandra Celletti

Here's a nice new release from the independent Italian recording company, KHA. The classically oriented label makes a venture into the jazz world with this fine compilation of Scott Joplin compositions.

Pianist, Alessandra Celletti, was born in Rome and graduated from the Santa Cecilia conservatory in that city. This is her third CD for KHA, the last being dedicated to the music of Erik Satie.

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was, without a doubt, the most important ragtime composer. The Sedalia, Missouri pianist possibly had a few rags on paper as early as 1897 but was unsuccessful in selling them to a publisher. The year of 1899 sealed Joplin's place in history with the publication of Original Rags and the perennial Maple Leaf Rag. The latter composition was named for the pianist's favorite club, the Maple Leaf, in St. Louis. Joplin went on to become the standard by which all ragtime composers would be measured.

In his book This Is Ragtime, pianist Terry Waldo, described three periods in the life of Scott Joplin. The Early Period in which he wrote simple flowing melodies. The Peak Period where his rags became more grandiose and began to strut. The Experimental Period saw the introduction of bolder harmonies and elements of classical music. It was during this period that Joplin developed his opera, Treemonisha. Ms. Celletti wisely selected appropriate rags from each of these chapters in the life of the composer.

The pianist's performance reflects her meticulous study of Joplin's tunes. Her articulate renderings are among the finest I've heard in recent years. The inclusion of the seldom heard Little Black Baby and When Your Hair Is Like The Snow is an asset to this album. Her spirited performances of Weeping Willow and the beautiful Solace are captivating.

Listeners will really appreciate the excellent liner notes by Virgillo Celletti. He covers the life and times of Scott Joplin in great detail.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Alessandra Celletti
  • CD Title: Black Baby - Scott Joplins Ragtime
  • Genre: Ragtime Jazz
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: KHA
  • Tracks: Original Rags; Swipesy; The Chrysanthemum; Pleasant Moments; The Entertainer; Solace; Weeping Willow; Bethena; Sugar Cane; A Real Slow Drag; Magnetic Rag; Palm Leaf Rag; When Your hair Is Like The Snow; Maple Leaf Rag; Little Black Baby.
  • Musicians: Alessandra Celletti (solo piano)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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