Café Mouffe: John Arpin

Set 1: John Arpin plays Joe Lamb’s Bohemia Rag.

Last Friday when the Mouffe celebrated one great Canadian pianist, Ms. Modigliani and I were introduced to another. We met our friend Lou Bourgeois for a holiday drink at his favorite pub in Bronte, Ontario. No piano there, alas, or Lou could have played for us. He gave us a greatest hits collection of songs by the French crooner Charles Aznavour along with Blue Gardenia, Latin American piano music performed by John Arpin. Both musicians were completely new to me. They both deserve a little love at Café Mouffe.

After listening to Blue Gardenia several nights ago, we turned to Wikipedia and YouTube to learn more about John Arpin. Classically trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he was known world-wide as a virtuoso interpreter of piano rags. He is ranked in the pantheon of Canadian pianists along with Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson. He made more than 60 recordings. Sadly, he died of cancer last Nov. 8 at age 70.

The performances featured here were recorded at the 16th Bohem Ragtime & Jazz Festival in Kecskemet, Hungary in March 2007. It was one of John Arpin’s last appearances. “Here he was weak but vivid and his playing is marvelous as ever,” notes YouTube’s fobohem, who posted the clips.

Many thanks to Lou for turning me on to new music! Look for Charles Aznavour on a future show.

Set 2: John Arpin plays Ragtime Nightengale by Joe Lamb.

Set 3: John Arpin performs a medley of W. C. Handy’s blues compositions.

Café Mouffe opens every Friday at 3:00 p.m. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the set notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.

This entry was posted in Café Mouffe, Lou Bourgeois, Ms. Modigliani, Playing by Ear, Toronto and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Café Mouffe: John Arpin

  1. Mark Willis says:

    One reader reached the MOuffe via a Bloglines search today. That search showed me stories about Arpin’s passing on the CBC and Toronto’s Jazz FM 91 (login required).

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