‘Ragtime Blues’ and more…

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

The arrival of a new collection from the pen of composer and arranger Mike Cornick is always likely to be greeted with enthusiasm.

Cornick’s latest two publications are Ragtime Blues and more and Elgar Favourites (arranged for piano duet). The latter will be reviewed separately, while in this post I will be having a look at ‘Ragtime Blues and more’…

Eleven Intermediate Solos

Ragtime Blues and more follows in the steps of Cornick’s recent collections In the Groove and more and Blues for Two and more (reviewed here).

Like those collections, the composer leads into this one with an old favourite that he published way back, before launching into a set of new pieces at the same level, defined as ‘intermediate and beyond’.

The full list of pieces in this new collection is:

  1. Ragtime Blues
  2. The Cocktail Bar Pianist
  3. A Variable Star
  4. Sonatine for G
  5. American Soap
  6. Intermezzo in F
  7. Modulating Blkues
  8. Be-Bop
  9. Latin-8
  10. Waltz for Laura
  11. Piazza San Marco

Many will recognise the titular Ragtime Blues from its first publication in Mike Cornick’s Piano Ragtime (1997), and it has also appeared in graded exam syllabi. The piece’s infectious 1920’s feel is a lot of fun, and it remains one of the highlights of the new book.

Other highlights here include Waltz for Laura and the catchy Be-Bop, both of which were originally duets from Cornick’s popular collection Easy Jazzy Duets. And I enjoyed Piazza San Marco, marked “Allegro, with a Baroque/Rock feel”, with its echoes of Jethro Tull’s Bourée.

Indeed, I feel that Cornick is at his best in the more jazzy numbers, also including the delicious Cocktail Bar Pianist and more poppy American Soap.

Interestingly though, much of the content here digresses from the ragtime and blues styles suggested by the collection’s title; several of the pieces here are pastiches that look more to classical influences.

A Vaiable Star offers variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (though players will need to search for the remnants of that melody carefully), Sonatina for G is a pop ballad (the title something of a mystery), and Intermezzo in F is an affecting slow piece.

All the music here is eminently suitable for intermediate players, and none of the pieces outstays its welcome (the longest are three well-spaced pages). I like the variety, and anticipate that fans of Cornick’s writing will find much here to enjoy!

The Publication

Ragtime Blues and more appears in the attractive house style that Universal Edition have established for this growing series, an eye-catching front cover printed on glossy card containing the 28-white-pages book.

The notation throughout the collection is generously sized and spaced, in a pristine easy-to-read music font. Ample fingering is included throughout, all pedagogically considered to support players at this level. As expected then, the quality level here is high, the whole publication basically spot on.

Closing Thoughts

Ragtime Blues and more is everything we’ve come to expect from UE’s Mike Cornick publications: there’s great variety, with a stylistically convincing range of teaching-pieces, and even the less remarkable numbers are still musically appealing and pedagogically rewarding.

Existing fans will certainly welcome this enjoyable collection of fresh material, while the inclusion of an old favourite or two further adds to the appeal and value. Meanwhile, those new to Cornick’s music will soon understand why he is so widely admired as one of our most consummate educational composers.

This attractively presented volume is well worth a look!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.