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Ragtime music is arguably the first distinctively \American\ music to achieve both commercial success and international acceptance, preceeding jazz by (at least) a full generation. Moreover, it was the first American music in which the prowess of both black and white musicians as composers and performers was routinely acknowledged by the general public. Considering that as late as 1960 white DJ's were still catching flack for playing too much "black music", this interracial recognition as far back as the 1890s was truly phenominal. No other book I've read on this period captures the flavor and uniqueness of the ragtime era as well as "They All Played Ragtime."
Any serious ragtime afficianado should enjoy this book. Indeed, it is essential; the "bible of ragtime" as another reviewer has called it. Researched and written during what has been termed "the first ragtime revival" (late 1940s - early 1950s), this book is refered to by pretty much every other well-received ragtime title written since.
It is true that Blesh and Janis weren't opperating under the same standards for research and investigative journalism that we've come to expect by the 21st century, and the book does contain some inaccuracies. These flaws, however, are more than made up for by the fact that the authors essentially based this book on interviews with people who actualy lived through the original ragtime era, including some of the people responsible for it's music.
By the time of the next big ragtime resurgance in the mid-1970s most of these folks had long since passed on. Consequently, to get the first-hand /human/ element of the ragtime story, "They All Played Ragtime" has become pretty much the source from which most, if not all waters flow.Read more ›
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