"My own composing in ragtime began somewhere in the 1950s and I've been at it ever since. 'Polyragmic' for my Guide to Ragtime (Hollis Music, 1964), and was a staple in the repertoire of my Original Ragtime Quartet on tour in the mid-1960s. It turned out to be a marathon excursion in the basic ragtime trick of pushing three against two metrically."
"I had never met Harriet Janis, co-author with Rudi Blesh of that 'bible' of ragtime, They All Played Ragtime (Knopf, 1950), a book that influenced me deeply, as it has thousands of readers. Indeed, I met Rudi Blesh the year 'Hansi' Janis died, and Blesh subsequently became a close personal friend and associate. It was at his request that I developed a little rag theme that spun between 2/4 and 3/4 into 'Golden Hours' (Hollis Music, NY), which he titled, and we dedicated in 1966 to the memory of Mrs. Janis."
"When Rudi Blesh died in 1985, I happened to be working on 'The Cripple Creek Suite', a collection of original rags (Mel Bay, 1986). Blesh was born in 1899, the year of Joplin's smash 'Maple Leaf Rag' and year that Cripple Creek gold from my home state of Colorado hit its highest production. The name of a fabled gold mine and a rag fragment from my playing days at the Imperial Hotel in the gold camp combined to become 'Old Mortality', my ragtime farewell to Blesh. (What I didn't realize until this recording is that 'Golden Hours' ends on the same note with which 'Old Mortality' begins. It seemed a predestined programming, and a chance to renew a respectful tribute to this loving and talented pair.)"
Texarkana was the birthplace of both Conlon Nancarrow and Scott Joplin. 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. Joplin liked his ragtime slow, however, and the Disklavier is a fast medium, so 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 (1894-1955). 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 John Esposito, who may play it any time he likes.
Texarkana was premiered on November 16, 2000, at Bard College, and performed for the Centennial on April 2nd, 2017 at Ball State University. Other performances: March 15, 2002 at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina, and March 12 and 13, Santa Fe New Music, Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, NM.