Press Release - Ticklin' Time...from Joplin to Gershwin

CD Cover: Ticklin' Time October, 1999

The Royal City Saxophone Quartet is pleased to announce the release of their second Compact Disc recording: Ticklin' Time...from Joplin to Gershwin!

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The music of the 20th Century is the story of Jazz. In that time it was born. It flourished and it continues to explore the edge of creativity. The RCSQ revisits the origins of Jazz when they play Ragtime, then they dance through time to the beat of Stride, Blues, and Swing.

The saxophone has endeared itself to generations of music lovers. It has stood outside the gate with common folk, clowned around a bit, ultimately taking centre stage in the hearts of a century. Let Ticklin' Time take you on a jazz journey.

Ticklin' Time features 18 lively arrangements in over 55 minutes of music composed by Joplin, Gershwin, Kern, Handy, Lamb, Wiedoeft, and others, as well as a terrific new arrangement of The Dill Pickles Rag by Colorado arranger Jerry K. Elliott.

The Royal City Saxophone Quartet is a professional ensemble based in Guelph, Ontario performing in a variety of venues across North America since 1991.

Ticklin' Time is available for sale and distribution at the addresses below at the suggested retail price of $19.95 CDN ($14.95 US).

What's on the CD

Although this CD highlights the Ragtime of Joplin and the Jazz of Gershwin, it opens and closes with pieces written specifically for saxophones, on the trailing edge of the Ragtime era.

Smiles and Chuckles is a lively "rag one-step", composed for The Six Brown Brothers, a family of saxophonists originally from Ottawa, Canada, who dressed in clown costumes and makeup. They became a huge success over a span of about twenty years in the United States in the early part of the 20th century. It is appropriate that a new Canadian group like the RCSQ should open the new century by reviving tunes originally performed by their countrymen pioneers. In the last several years, the RCSQ has certainly travelled along a similar path to the Brown Brothers, performing for audiences as far from home as Sedalia, Missouri at the Centennial Celebration of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival.

Scott Joplin, heralded as the King of Ragtime, composed Ragtime Dance as a kind of ragtime ballet based on five contemporary social dance themes. Although the early dance-steps are long forgotten, our audiences love to mark the strong beats and tacets with footwork of their own. Tim does a terrific job leaping the intervals on the Soprano up to altissimo high G.

In contrast to Ragtime Dance, Weeping Willow is like a particularly graceful folk song and features Joplin's strongly rhythmic trio, which continues the flowing cantilena through this ensemble version.

Solace, subtitled by Joplin as "a Mexican Serenade", is his only work in tango rhythm. Originally from Cuba, this rhythm entered American piano literature as early as 1860 by way of the African cult houses where it is said to have been known by its African tribal name, tangana. Bradley leads the melody superbly in this sultry arrangement.

Ragtime Nightingale by Joseph Lamb, one of the top three Ragtime composers, opens with Ernie on the Baritone in a more lyrical context before returning to a more regular rhythmic pulse. Bradley accents it with nightingale-like trills on the Soprano.

Dill Pickles is a superb new arrangement commissioned by the RCSQ from arranger Jerry Elliott. We met Jerry in Colorado earlier this year at the Evergreen Ragtime Bash, and fell in love with his clear manuscript work and his enthusiasm for arranging Ragtime compositions. He transcribes for various instrumentations including Saxophone Quartet. Dill Pickles is intricate and playful, and we look forward to playing more arrangements from Jerry.

St. Louis Blues from "the Father of the Blues", W. C. Handy, is both mournful and invigorating. As Handy described it, it is: "the sound of a sinner on revival day". Everyone gets a solo here--a chance to sing "the Blues".

Love Is Here To Stay opens our Gershwin set swinging. Following Ernie’s Baritone solo, the arrangement diverts into a Beguine rhythm treatment of the melody before returning to swing and a graceful finish.

In Gershwin's Summertime, Tim really "steams" on this hot, hazy, lazy piece from Porgy and Bess.

Gershwin's Three Preludes for piano pose quite a challenge for Saxophone Quartet, both rhythmically and technically (not to mention the tempos). Bradley uses his "magic" to lead us confidently through Preludes I and III, and shares the haunting motif with Tim in Prelude II. They are both interrupted momentarily by Ernie bodaciously bursting in on the Baritone with Peter and Tim "strumming" the accompaniment.

Saxophonist Larry Sereda's Gershwin Medley combines the familiar tunes of Fascinatin' Rhythm, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Summertime (this time crooned by Bradley on Alto), and I Got Rhythm, by sharing the melodies and rhythms among all four saxophones.

Al Cobine's rendition of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, is an absolutely gorgeous ballad, fully exploring the rich harmonious textures and the dynamic and melodic ranges of the saxophone quartet. The lyrical melody is tenderly crafted by Tim on Soprano, and then delicately echoed by the rest of us in turn before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

Ain't Misbehavin' is a fun, easily swinging piece aptly arranged by saxophonist Lennie Niehaus. He is a veteran arranger of everything from saxophone ensembles to movie scores. Tim gets a chance to wail an improvised solo on our only arrangement for two Altos.

And now we come full-circle back to the Ragtime-style. The last three tracks (Saxema, Valse Llewellyn, and Saxophobia) comprise Ted Hegvik's Wiedoeft Suite, ingeniously arranged for Saxophone Quartet. Rudy Wiedoeft was a gifted saxophonist virtuoso who rose to fame in the early part of the 20th century. His compositions were unmistakably influenced by both Ragtime and the music of his own European heritage. They provided the perfect vehicle for his fast fingering technique and articulations on the saxophone. All three tunes are equally as challenging to play on four saxophones. Hegvik's spirited arrangements weave Wiedoeft's melodies through all four voices in various patterns, and the lilting Valse Llewellyn spotlights the naturally-gifted character of Peter's own Tenor Saxophone virtuosity.

Escarpment Sound Studio is a converted stone barn built in the mid-1800’s just north of Acton, Ontario, owned and operated by Brian Hewson. We are in the company of many famous Canadian artists who record there because it provides a warm, comfortable, and relaxed recording experience.
Microphones used (all condensor mics): AKG535 (Alto and Soprano), AKG414 (Tenor), Neumann U87 (Baritone).

The Royal City Saxophone Quartet was formed in September 1991 in Guelph, Ontario and made its public debut at College Royal at the University of Guelph in the Spring of 1992. Although each member is classically trained, within the last several years the Quartet has discovered a niche in performing Ragtime and early Jazz. The RCSQ performs for audiences at Ragtime-, Jazz-, and Summer-Music Festivals throughout North America and beyond.

On the cover: The RCSQ pauses for a photo at the historic covered bridge in West Montrose, Ontario, after an afternoon drive in Bradley’s 1938 Buick Special.

Ticklin' Time will soon be featured on:

  • Disc Drive with Jurgen Gothe on CBC Radio 2 FM (94.1 FM) and

  • Pot Pourri with Terry Campbell on Classical 96 FM (CFMX 96.3 and 103.1 FM), North America's Number One Classical Music Station

  • Music for the Mind with Jennifer Gordon on CFRU FM (93.3 FM), Campus Radio, University of Guelph

  • The Jazz Show with Ted O'Reilly on CJRT FM (91.1 FM), Classical and Jazz Fine Arts Radio in Toronto

  • National Public Radio in the United States NPR Online

Reviews about Ticklin' this page for forthcoming reviews!

Reviews about the first CD: Ragtime for Rent

"This is certainly one of the best saxophone quartets in Canada. Excellent spirit, dynamics, and great feeling. First Class. I loved it!" -- Paul Brodie, Order of Canada

"The playing is marvelous, and the arrangements are imaginative and fun!"
-- Dr. Bruce Vermazen, Professor, University of California at Berkeley,
   Author of "The Six Brown Brothers"

"Rich with talent…noble and unorthodox...elegant variation, superb intonation and inflection. This is right down your alley!" -- The Mississippi Rag

"A happy treat! Now the jubilant sound of the "raggy reeds" can march right into your living room. You gotta love this sound -- it's fun!" -- Jack Rummel, The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation

"Yes! Bravo! Excellente! Smashing! Maestroes! Let's start it over and play it again! It's great!"
-- Bob Milne, Ragtimist

"Excellent CD - non stop fun from start to finish. Very smooth. A very popular CD around the radio station."
-- Jennifer Gordon, Host, Music for the Mind, CFRU-FM

"What a wonderful sound! I love the RCSQ because of their fresh ideas and their smooth music!"
-- Hartmut Domr'se, Germany, saxophone student and one of the best fans of the RCSQ

Submit your own review...

How to Order...


To order a copy of the CD by mail, send a Certified Check, Cashier's Check, or International  Postal Money Order in US funds for $16.99 US which includes applicable taxes and shipping to:

The Royal City Saxophone Quartet
P.O. Box 2896
Elora, Ontario  N0B 1S0
Phone & Fax: 519-846-9663

U.S. Money-Orders should be purchased through your local 7-11 store.


Ragtime for Rent

Check out their first CD!
Ragtime for Rent

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