March 1999

Reginald R. Robinson
Euphonic Sounds
Delmark Records

The highlights of this fine CD are the unknown Louis Chauvin pieces, "Babe It's Too Long Off" and "The Moon Is Shining in the Sky," which along with the celebrated collaboration with Joplin, "Heliotrope Bouquet," comprise all we have of this legendary figure. Ragtime devotees would buy a Liberace record for the chance to hear the first two, which are lesser efforts than "Heliotrope" but definitely rewarding on their own. I like Robinson's sound well enough that even overly familiar pieces like "The Entertainer" are enjoyable, and he does a good job with James Scott's difficult "Frog Legs". There are two charming Joseph Lamb rags, one of which, "Bobolink" is little-known.

Joe Jordan's "Pekin Rag" is another delight with its harmonically surprising last strain. Robinson can compose effectively in a very classic vein, "Space Coaster" and "Truly Yours" being especially successful, but I will admit that my own preference is hearing him play the obscure material. He has even transcribed a 30-second fragment of never-heard Joplin from a photo of Joplin's piano. Ragtime needs such dedicated champions, and Robinson continues to grow into the role. Highly recommended.

Originally published in March 1999
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