Classic Rags New Orleans Style Vol 1


Classic Rags New Orleans Style Vol 1


2016 – SACD-171

Jelly Roll Morton’s proud, playful New Orleans spirit shines through strongly with Kris Tokarski’s warm and delicate style.


Classic Rags New Orleans Style Vol 1 by Kris Tokarski



Pastime Rag #3
Heliotrope Bouquet
Peacherine Rag
Elite Syncopations
Ragtime Nightingale
Grace And Beauty
Please Say You Will
Sunflower Slow Drag
Magnetic Rag
The Easy Winners
Cataract Rag
St. Louis Rag





Jelly Roll Morton is one of the two major pianists who took ragtime and turned it into jazz (the other being James P. Johnson in NYC). In his famous Library of Congress recordings, he played Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” in an approximation of Joplin’s style, followed by his jazzified “Jelly Roll” style. He also on another occasion recorded a transformation of Joplin’s “Original Rags.”
27-year-old pianist Kris Tokarski, a Berklee School of Music grad, moved to NOLA from the NYC area five years ago. Like many recent young transplants, he’s multi-stylistic, from rag and trad jazz to bebop (Barry Harris being a particular favorite), and he plays them well. Given Jelly Roll’s recorded legacy, it was a natural idea for Tokarski to conceive an entire album of Mortonized, or “New Orleans Style” rags.
The transformation doesn’t always work, especially on a genteel piece like “Heliotrope Bouquet.” But there are many moments which will delight the listener, particularly if he/she knows the originals (by Joplin, Marshall, Lamb, Scott, Hampton and Turpin) as well as Morton’s playing. Drummer Hal Smith, who’s spent 40 years mastering early jazz styles, and the fine local bassist Cassidy Holden, accompany on half of the tracks.
Learning to play in Morton’s style is a lifelong endeavor, and for Tokarski to have grasped so many of the elements in his 20s, and to have applied them so creatively, is impressive. Let’s hope he has another 50 years to follow in this direction.


A superior up-and-coming jazz pianist, Kris Tokarski is developing his own style which includes aspects of Jelly Roll Morton, Teddy Wilson, and the top stride pianists. A pair of very different trio albums team him with drummer Hal Smith and either cornetist-clarinetist Andy Schumm or bassist Cassidy Holden.
Back in 1938 when he recorded an extensive series of songs for the Library of Congress, Jelly Roll Morton included two versions of “Maple Leaf Rag.” He demonstrated how he transformed Scott Joplin’s most famous piece from ragtime into swinging jazz. Classic Rags New Orleans Style builds on the concept, imagining what it would have sounded like if Morton had given a similar treatment to 14 other rags.
Kris Tokarski performs eight Joplin pieces plus a rag apiece by Artie Matthews, Arthur Marshall, Joseph Lamb, Tom Turpin, James Scott, and Robert Hampton. While ragtime purists may not be completely pleased, Tokarski shows respect for the original melodies and frameworks while opening up the music. With bassist Holden and drummer Smith giving him steady and mostly quiet support, Tokarski digs into the pieces and moves them forward into the 1920s and even ‘30s. Among the songs that he uplifts are “Pastime Rag No. 3,” “Heliotrope Bouquet,” “Elite Syncopations,” “Sunflower Slow Drag” and “The Easy Winners.” Everything works quite well.

Additional information


None supplied


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Classic Rags New Orleans Style Vol 1”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Items will be dispatched no later than two working days after purchase unless the office is closed due to holidays or touring.

All CDs to the UK will be shipped by UK second class post.
All CDs to Europe and the rest of the world will be shipped by international standard overseas post.

You may also like…