Paragon Ragtime Orchestra • Deuces Wild

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra • Deuces WildRick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has been together for over 37 years, with Deuces Wild being their 20th recording. Benjamin’s discovery of thousands of arrangements written for Arthur Pryor’s early 20th century band resulted in him founding his own group and setting the standard for ragtime orchestras. His 12-piece unit consists of two cornets, trombone, clarinet, flute-piccolo, piano, bass, chimes & mallets, and a string quartet.

Unlike with most of their recordings, Deuces Wild does not have a specific theme. The orchestra performs ragtime, hot dance music, waltzes, early orchestrated blues, some novelties, and ragged adaptations of classical themes. A few of the numbers are fairly well known, including “Beale Street,” “Kitten On The Keys” (on which Benjamin is featured on piano) and a sweet version of “Look For The Silver Lining.” However it is fair to say that most of the other tunes, such as “Bone-Head Blues,” “The Ragtime Bassplayer,” “Step With Pep,” “Slim Trombone,” and “The Victor Talking Machine March,” have not been performed very often during the past century.

Red Wood Coast

A bonus is an eight-minute performance of a medley from George Gershwin’s score for his very first show, “La-La Lucille.” All of those six songs have been completely forgotten since 1919, giving one an opportunity to hear some “new” Gershwin.

Each of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s recordings offers musical treasures. Deuces Wild is no exception.

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra • Deuces Wild
RR 6006

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Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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