Folio Review: The Authentic Sounds of RAGETIME PIANO Vincent Matthew Johnson, composer

Vincent Matthew Johnson is a young man who seems to revel in facing challenges head-on.  Early accomplishments, such as teaching himself to play the piano and studying Mandarin Chinese, led to other challenges, including mastering music theory and composition and recording a CD of early novelty piano works.  Now in his early twenties, he is composing continually.  These two volumes of his rags are following closely on the heels of two earlier volumes of his novelty piano music and his output shows no signs of stopping.

Undaunted by the virtual absence of sharps in ragtime key signatures, Johnson has jumped in feet first and given us opuses that range from seven (!) sharps (Puppy Love) to six flats (Cedarhawke Rag) plus everything in between.  While some of his compositions can be approached by the casual pianist, most will require serious study and diligent practice to take them to performance level.

Hot Jazz Jubile

Curious readers may question the title of the two volumes.  In his study of ragtime, Johnson has become impressed with the variety of moods and emotions found within the genre, but at the same time he has discovered very few rags that express anger.  His answer was to compose That Infuriating Rag – Subtitled A Rage-Time Classic.  It seems strange, however, that he has adopted “Ragetime” as the label for these folios, for the only other work that might deserve such a branding is Invincible Rag.  The rest of his compositions range from melodic rags such as Blue-Berry Pancakes, Elysian Park Rag and Tiffany Lamp Rag to the light-hearted playfulness of Catty Catrina and Puppy Love, with the obligatory sprinkling throughout of novelty piano solos, for which he has become identified.

In a seemingly short period of time, Vincent Matthew Johnson has become a ragtime composer of note.  These pieces can certainly become addictive and, for the pianist who is willing to put forth the effort, sources of great pleasure and fun.

Each folio is $20.00 postpaid and can be ordered from Vincent Matthew Johnson by email at <[email protected]>.

UpBeat Records

The Authentic Sounds of RAGETIME PIANO
Vincent Matthew Johnson, composer

VOLUME I:  Blue-Berry Pancakes / Smartypants Rag / Elysian Park Rag / The Mother Lode Rag / Red Envelope Rag / …And So Fourth / Daffodiliness / Catty Catrina / Prissy Priscilla / That Infuriating Rag.

VOLUME II:  Storybook Rag / Cedarhawke Rag / Invincible Rag / Tiffany Lamp Rag / Darling Fox Trot / What-A-Melon! / Turquoise Blues / Puppy Love / The Ferris Wheel Waltzes / Polka Dots.

Jack has embraced ragtime as an avocation, starting with folio and record collecting, beginning composition in 1979, hosting a weekly radio program on a Denver area public radio station since 1980, writing articles and reviews for ragtime publications, and performing and lecturing at various festivals in Missouri, California and Colorado. He was a co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival in Boulder, CO and served as its president from 1992-2005. These album reviews, originally published on, are being archived on

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