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MMD > Archives > February 2010 > 2010.02.05 > 02Prev  Next


George Bogatko & My Forthcoming Pianist Book
By Andrew Barrett

Does anybody have George Bogatko's most current email address or his
phone number? I tried sending him an email yesterday, but it did not go
through. I tried looking in the Archives for his address, but it seems
that his latest MMD posting dates from 2004.

Is he doing okay?  Has anybody heard what he's been up to lately
(besides photography)?

One reason I would like to get in touch with him is that I'm working on
a book entitled "Popular Piano Styles of the 1920s," and would like to
see what he knows on this subject.

If anybody else in this group has similar interests or knew somebody
who was a popular pianist in the 1920s, please get in touch with me. If
you have a friend who knew someone from back then (whether through
AMICA or whatever), please have them get in touch with me.

By "popular" I mean pop, blues, jazz, salon, etc. everything except
strict classical music.  They don't have to have been a roll
artist/arranger/editor, but if they were, that is fine, since I am
including them in the book.  They don't even have to have been a
professional musician, although naturally I am more interested in those
people whose recordings survive (even homemade recordings done later in
life) than those who never recorded.

Piano rolls are not the same as recordings; however they are also
important to understanding the musical thinking and pianistic
development that was occurring in the 1920s, and so I will include
musicians who made rolls, but no known recordings, as space permits.
Luckily, most 1920s roll artists seem to have made at least one
recording at some point in their lives.

For example, a reel-to-reel tape of Frank Milne's playing is rumored to
exist, although nobody I've met personally has actually seen or heard
it.  Besides being historically important, this would be especially fun
to hear, considering that Milne's rolls have absolutely nothing to do
with hand-playing at all.  Reportedly, he cut the masters out by hand
on his kitchen table.

Besides taking into consideration recordings, piano rolls, and sheet
music, I am also interested in personal bits of information, what a
musician was like as a person, things that help flesh out their
biography and which have been mostly ignored by people interested only
in the musical aspects of their life, aspects which are not readily
related by their non-musical friends and family members, and are often
better learned simply by listening to the recordings and looking at the
sheet music.

Also, if anyone knows Marc Cohn in Florida, who is a relative of Harry
Jentes (the composer and pianist), would you please ask him to get in
touch with me?  Many of my friends are good ragtime pianists and have
been appreciating and performing Jentes' works for years now, without
knowing very much about him as a person.  The biography in "Rags and
Ragtime" is a good start, and so is "Perfessor" Bill Edwards'
meticulously researched page:

	http://www.perfessorbill.com/ragtime4.shtml 

but even this, as great as it is, is incomplete with regard to Jentes'
later years.

Some of the best and most insightful things I've ever read about a
musician come not from some dry laundry list of what they wrote or with
whose band they played (although this information is a good start), but
rather, from the personal anecdotes related by friends and family
members or the musicians themselves.

Let me give you an example of the type of material I need: Frank Banta
died in 1968, and yet Alex Hassan was able to dig up only the scantest
of biographical information about him for the liner notes to the
excellent 2008 Rivermont Records release of his Victor and Banner solo
piano recordings (entitled "Upright and Grand").

Another example: Lemuel Fowler died sometime in the early 1960's (or
perhaps later; we're not sure).  While in Chicago, Fowler was an early
influence on Meade Lux Lewis, who apparently remembered him, although I
don't believe any of those memories were written down anywhere.

Fowler's QRS rolls were generally produced and edited by J. Lawrence
Cook, who remembered him well enough to recognize the man thirty years
later, a shadow of his former self, when he came to visit Cook at QRS
in the early 1960s.  Apparently Fowler said he was going to make a 
comeback (or something like that), but after the visit, Cook never saw
or heard of him again.

Despite the diligent efforts of Mike Montgomery, Bob Pinsker, and
several historians of the RedHotJazz Yahoo group, we have so far been
unable to discover even the barest of facts about Fowler such as his
birth and death dates and places.

The sad state of biographical affairs for these two important 1920s
pianists is an example of the kind of information that has been lost,
or will be lost as people pass away without caring to write down or
record their memories of these musicians.

Please help me out.  You will receive full credit for anything you can
contribute.  Even if you didn't actually know anybody from way back
when, but are an expert on this subject (or at least think you are), I
would like to hear from you.

You can contact me at rag1916@yahoo.com.geentroep (deleting .geentroep)

RAGards,
Andrew Barrett

  [ Reading Andrew's posting made me wonder whether there is a 
  [ difference between "piano styles" and "piano stylings." 
  [ --Relief Editor.


(Message sent Fri 5 Feb 2010, 07:46:53 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bogatko, Book, Forthcoming, George, My, Pianist

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