Among many other masterworks, jazz and stride piano great Dick Wellstood devised a memorable and very original interpretation of Scott Joplin’s famous ragtime classic The Entertainer, taken at a slow tempo and with plenty of bluesy colorations. He recorded it many times, for example in his LP Live at Café des Copains (Unisson DDA 1003). My note-for-note transcription of this great recording is included in my book Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos (San Diego, California, Neil A. Kjos Music Company, 1994). Here is a beautiful live performance of this transcription, played by my friend the Italian ragtime specialist Marco Fumo: http://youtu.be/yJFUlxiwjKQ
As one can easily see here, Wellstood departs considerably from the original Joplin score and he also improvises in the repetitions of each strain. Contrary to the popular belief that Ragtime has to be played exactly as written, Wellstood was “legitimate” in using this improvisational approach from a historical point of view too. As reported by Eubie Blake and many other ragtime pioneers and instructors, every good ragtime pianist had his own performing style and would improvise or at least personalize his renditions. More on this fascinating and very important matter soon on these pages…
Recorded in 1985, Live at Café des Copains is definitely one of Wellstood’s best albums. Really, it’s a pity that (at least to my knowledge) it has not been reissued on CD until now. Anyway, a similar studio version of this version of The Entertainer is currently available in his truly great CD Ragtime Piano Favorites, from which I transcribed five of the piano solos included in my book. I hope you’ll enjoy this transcription of Dick Wellstood The Entertainer!
Dick Wellstood Jazz Piano Solos: Seven Historic Solos, Transcribed and annotated by Riccardo Scivales, with a preface by Dick Hyman (San Diego, California, Neil A. Kjos Music Company, 1994, pp. 64, WP332, $ 8.95). A collection of note-for-note transcriptions of seven great piano solos recorded by this stride, jazz, and blues piano master. Includes outstanding stride piano versions of famous old standards such as The Entertainer, Bill Bailey, If Dreams Come True, Hello My Baby, Washington & Lee Swing, My Gal Sal and Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider, plus performance notes and introductory notes to each solo and to Wellstood’s style. The Preface is by jazz piano great Dick Hyman, who also performed and recorded with Wellstood in the highly acclaimed “Stridemonster!” two-piano team.