Consumer Guide Album
Brun Campbell: Joplin's Disciple [Delmark, 2001]
The pianist-turned-barber was 14 when he turned pro in 1898, 24 when he quit the road, past 60 when he began recording. So since there's no sign that his modest chops deteriorated or his ham-fisted aesthetic developed, playing this record of classic Scott Joplin creations and ungainly Brun Campbell originals is like tossing a century of deodorized air out the window. Ragtime contemporaries unheard by me may have taken a more refined approach, but Campbell's ingrained indelicacy yanks the arty veil off the style. The only good pianist I know with a heavier touch is Jerry Lee Lewis, who has more rebop if less technique and should go into training for a rag album of his own. On a lovely and necessary 1998 tribute, Butch Thompson made a point of re-emphasizing Joplin's pulse. Campbell's left would KO Thompson before he'd finished flexing his fingers.