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Tom Brier

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When:

  • Tue 22 Sep ’15, 7:30pm

Where:

Pt Chevalier RSA, 1136 Great North Rd, Pt Chevalier

Restrictions:

All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Members: $5.00
  • non members: $15.00

Auckland Jazz and Blues Club Present:
Tom Brier (USA)

When I was working on the concept of an index of ragtime tunes I was fortuitously referred to Californian ragtime pianist, sheet music collector, composer, researcher and computer programmer Tom Brier. He had already cut a CD “Rising Star”, but as a star he had already risen by the time I came on the scene and was highly respected and sought after in the West Coast ragtime scene. He rarely travels outside of California so he is less well known in the Mid West and Eastern States, or at Sedalia, but they certainly know of his reputation. I am reluctant to make a specific claim, but let’s say Tom is amongst the top ten ragtime pianists in the world, and we are very fortunate that he has decided to come to Australia (and New Zealand) for a short vacation from his job at the City of Sacramento.

Tom was born in October, 1971 in a farming community just south of Sacramento. When he was four, his parents bought an old Schubert mechanical player piano, and soon he was picking out tunes he heard on the piano rolls. His parents enrolled him with a local piano teacher when he was five, and in a short time he was composing and notating his own music. He had composed over two dozen rags by the age of eleven, and was invited to play at the Sacramento Ragtime Society when he was 14. His aggressive and articulate renderings of the ragtime classics blew everyone away. More importantly everyone was amazed at his depth of understanding of the early ragtime styles.
After high school, Tom attended the California State University in Turlock, where he completed a bachelor's degree in 1993. Since then, he has worked as a computer programmer. When not tapping the computer keyboard at work, he's at home pounding on the piano keyboard, working up a new rag (alone or with collaborators), transcribing handwritten scores or piano rolls, or busily engaged in a variety of music recording projects. He has played at festivals since his High School days.
His mastery of the ragtime idiom has matured over time and his signature rapid-fire left hand runs have been tempered by a new attention to the inner harmonies and voicings of ragtime. This sensitivity is especially seen in his own compositions, all remarkably original yet numbering well over 150.
Tom has released six CDs: Rising Star (1994), Generic (1997), Pianola (2000), Skeletons (2003), Rewind (2006) and Blue Sahara (2009), and in 2002 he also released a CD with the late Nan Bostick Dualing at the McCoys.
Ragtime is regarded as being the precursor to traditional jazz, and the dominant music from 1895 to 1918. There was a ragtime revival after World War 2, and again after the film The Sting, but for enthusiasts that go to festivals throughout the USA ragtime has been there all along.

Predominantly when first aired (published as sheet music or recorded from notations) it was solo piano versions without vocals. Some compositions were subsequently reissued as orchestrations, and in a few cases the orchestration appeared first and the piano solo later. Rags tended to be written to a structured 16 bar format AABBCCAA, which requires each tune to have 3 themes. But even more important was the need for syncopation.

The best known composers (the seminal three) are Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb. Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag (named after the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia) is the best known and most recorded ragtime tune, and that is part of the reason why Tom rarely plays it – he prefers the more obscure titles so his solo part of the gig will certainly include titles most people have never heard before.
Michael Mathew

Tom will be joined by an all star lineup of Auckland Musicians

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