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Album Review

Although ragtime is primarily thought of as music played by solo pianists, during the ragtime era there were many orchestras that performed the lively syncopated style using full orchestrations. In 1985, educator Rick Benjamin accidentally discovered most of the Arthur Pryor Orchestra's existing library (which was about to be thrown away) and formed the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra in order to bring the music back to life. In addition to a string quintet, the band uses two cornets, a trombone, two clarinets, a flute, tuba, string bass, drums, and percussion on this CD, its recording debut. The colorful charts range from Scott Joplin and W.C. Handy to obscurities, pop tunes of the era, a "George M. Cohan Medley," and "An Operatic Nightmare: Desecration Rag No. 2." This is delightful and timeless music that was almost permanently lost.

Customer Reviews

On The Boardwalk is On The Money

Superb musicianship, authentic orchestrations and an infectious sense of fun create an authentic early Turn-of-the-20th-Century atmosphere that only the aptly named Paragon Orchestra can evoke. I first encountered Rick Benjamin's masterful way with the ragtime idiom in an anthology CD and was delighted to discover more of the same deftly executed arrangements here. Bottom line: If you're looking for one of the best examples of fully orchestrated rags around, look not further than this series.

Absolutely delightful!

I've actually owned this recording since it first was released. I worked in a Tower Records store in Seattle, and whenever I was in a grumpy mood, this would bring me right out of it. By the time the album was halfway through, my lips hurt from whistling along. Very infectious and a pleasure to listen too!

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