Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ragtime Guitar Revitalized - New CD by HAMADA Takasi

Hamada Takasi (photo by Goro Noda, 2005)
A couple of years ago I introduced the amazing Japanese fingerstyle guitarist HAMADA Takasi who has specialized in ragtime guitar both as an interpreter of classic ragtime originally written for piano and further as an excellent contributor to the genre through his own compositions. Mr. HAMADA Takasi has released several CDs featuring his arrangements of both classic ragtime by Scott Joplin, James Scott, Joseph F. Lamb, David Thomas Roberts a.o. besides more than 30 pieces of his own which have extended the ragtime guitar repertoire with great new material. This summer a new CD by HAMADA Takasi was recorded and has now been released internationally at the Otarunay label with the title Ragtime Children (OTR-039), shown below
CD front: Ragtime Children by HAMADA Takasi (OTR-39)
The new CD has fourteen tracks, seven of them are devoted to ragtime compositions by other artists and seven are original compositions by HAMADA Takasi, among them the title piece of the CD, Ragtime Children. All pieces at the CD are solo guitar recitals using the special Otarunay Tuning (Eb-Ab-C-F-C-Eb), and all arrangements are made by the guitarist. Among the tunes by other artists ragtime guitar connoisseurs will recognize titles like St Louis Tickle (by Barney & Seymore, 1904, popular at the St. Louis World Fair the same year and later adapted as a ragtime guitar piece by folk/blues artist Dave van Ronk), Magnetic Rag (by Scott Joplin, 1914 - his last published rag) and Ragtime Nightingale (by Joseph F. Lamb, 1915 - a challenging piece re-arranged for solo guitar by David Laibman, who recorded his version in 1980). Here is HAMADA Takasi's version of Magnetic Rag in a live performance earlier this year

Among the pieces by other artists Trombone Rag (by Turk Murphy, 1942) stands out as a composition not written for piano, but for the trombone by the well known dixieland revival trombone player Turk Murphy, here in a sparkling arrangement for solo guitar by HAMADA Takasi. A 'folk ragtime' composition by David Thomas Roberts, Poplarville (1979) is an example of the new ragtime piano school, here in an arrangement by HAMADA Takasi made in 2015. Among the seven pieces at the disc composed by the guitarist, the inspiration from both classic ragtime as well as the new directions represented by David Thomas Roberts a.o. shines through. I am especially fond of a tune titled Hayashi Rice, which reminds me of some of the legendary pianist Blind Boone's contributions to the ragtime genre. Here is a live performance of Hayashi Rice by HAMADA Takasi

The Ragtime Children CD is an excellent contribution to a contemporary ragtime guitar collection, a must have for all serious followers of the fabulous Japanese fingerstyle guitarist HAMADA Takasi. The CD is available for purchase here 

To end this, here is another live performance by HAMADA Takasi playing the rag of rags,  Scott Joplins Maple Leaf Rag (- not on the new CD)


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