Kyle Gann: Texarkana

Texarkana was the birthplace of both Conlon Nancarrow and Scott Joplin (although Nancarrow was born on the Arkansas side, and Joplin on the Texas side). Nancarrow's favorite pianists were Earl Hines and Art Tatum. Had Nancarrow (1912-1997) and Joplin (1868-1917) ever worked together, or influenced each other, we might have had a ragtime of transcendent rhythmic complexity. To explore that possibility I split the difference between Joplin and Hines and applied Nancarrow's techniques to an early-jazz, still ragtimish style derived from James P. Johnson (1891-1955). Texarkana is built almost throughout on a fast basic rhythm of 29 in the virtual "right hand" against 13 in the "left," with a couple of Johnson quotes, one small Joplin one, and ending in a skewed version of James P.'s solo "Jingles," as recorded in 1930. The piece is dedicated to my jazz harmony teacher John Esposito, who may play it if he likes.

- Kyle Gann

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