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MMD > Archives > January 2014 > 2014.01.19 > 04Prev  Next

CD of 1920's Player Piano Tunes
By Tony Marsico

While not CDs, the albums Johnny Maddox's "Worlds Greatest Piano
Rolls," in volumes 1 through (I think) 7, has got to be some of the
best player piano music ever recorded.  There are conversion turntables
that can convert an LP vinyl album to CD.

By the way, I am looking for volumes 2, 5, 6, and 7.  I mistakenly
bought volume 3, which I already have a copy of, so I have that one to
trade.  Some of my favorites on these albums are "Rain" and "Darktown
Strutters Ball."  The latter sort of hums along, with the melody being
done "marimba" style in the tenor and bass, while the treble does the
ornamentation.  By the way, the cover photo shows a Seeburg orchestrion
with Johnny leaning on the back of the piano, just a head and shoulders
shot with the title of the album in the space above the keys where the
stained glass would have been.

Does anyone know whether these tunes are orchestrion rolls that were
recorded and whether they are "A" rolls?  Does anyone know whether
Johnny Maddox died, and when?  Or if he is still alive, is he

Another album of his that is a favorite is the duets he did with Glen 
Rowell.  I have a lot of Johnny's albums, but never saw him actually
playing.  But I found him on YouTube playing at some function doing a
duet with a much younger, but very accomplished, pianist and then solo
in a tavern setting with a mirror above the piano.  What I liked about
Johnny's albums was that he didn't always have the cliché type songs
like "Beer Barrel Polka" and "Tiger Rag" on his albums, but songs I
never heard of that must have been hits in their day.  And some he
plays, like "Glad Rag Doll," are slower poignant pieces which he does
with a raggy sentimentality.

Back when I was buying "honky tonk" albums, it was frustrating to go
through the genre of records and see one after the other with the same
cliché songs on it.  But I guess the record companies feel like people
buy what they know.  Piano roll buyers are the same in a lot of
respects.  New owners of player pianos tend to buy the cliché type
rolls, passing up some of the old time "hot" jazzy rolls that make a
player sound the way it should and really put it through its paces.  I
think new owners should be taught to recognize a potentially jazzy roll
like "Aggravatin' Papa" or "Come on Red, You Red Hot Devil Man" just by
the title.  It would increase their enjoyment of their piano.

Tony Marsico

(Message sent Sun 19 Jan 2014, 19:24:18 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  1920's, CD, Piano, Player, Tunes

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