COMPACT DISC REVIEW
It’s A Bear!
Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra
Stomp Off CD 1411
Ridin’ de Goat / Too Much Raspberry /
It’s good to see Bruce Vermazen, late of
the Chrysanthemum Ragtime Band, back with another ensemble. He and Bob
Pinsker organized the Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra to play for a
The HRO uses period arrangements designed for small theater orchestras (many from Vermazen’s extensive library) but with a unique touch: a saxophone is included and often plays the part originally scored for cello. With the exception of The Buffalo Rag (1904), all selections from this extremely varied playlist are from the second decade of the Twentieth Century when new dance steps were permutating across the country.
Opening with a brash trombone smear (Ridin’
de Goat), the HRO continues with one-steps (Are You From
Several pieces topped my list. Certainly the “untitled fox trot” from the pen of Eubie Blake (and receiving its premiere performance here as a piano solo [by Bob Pinsker]) is an event to be noted. Now that it’s been brought out of obscurity it deserves a title! Other favorites were Ridin' de Goat (and I thought Car-Barlick Acid was the only piece to come out of Oskaloosa, Iowa), the lovely but unsyncopated Lazy Jazz Waltz, the always-popular Russian Rag, the fowl-sounding Chicken Walk, and the expert blending of The Honolulu Rag with Cotton Time.
The release features excellent recorded sound, extensive liner notes and the high class artwork that has become Stomp Off’s hallmark. While not exhibiting the crisp precision of some currently popular ragtime orchestras, the ensemble produces a very warm, friendly sound that will suit both listeners and dancers alike. It’s not perfectly clear whether the Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra will continue to perform and record or whether it was organized just for the San Diego dance group. We will hope for the former. [Webmaster's note: It is certainly our fervent intention to continue and expand our performing and recording activities!]
Available for $16.00 postpaid from Stomp Off Records,