"There is no doubt that the cute little kid standing on the piano keys in the cover photo has grown up to become a whiz kid of ragtime. Alex Sandor was raised on ragtime and has certainly come into his own as an adult performer. One can ask, is there a style he doesn’t play or a trick he hasn’t perfected? Certainly the disc opens at a fast pace, with Maple Leaf Rag piling trick upon trick, followed by a dazzling Russian Rag and a Keep Off the Grass that features much flourish in the right hand. The pace and the improvisations continue throughout the recording, with a few slower numbers for contrast such as St. LouisBlues, Real Slow Drag, The Ragtime Betty and Sandor’s own Weinstein Rag. A few moments stand out above the rest (and the rest are very good indeed). Mississippi Rag is recognized as a near-perfect recreation of Claude Bolling’s 1974 version – no mean feat! Birmingham Breakdown is an oft-neglected Ellington stride gem that deserves more exposure, there is a startling key change in Sugar Cane Rag that is actually quite effective, and the Weinstein Rag proves to be a good early effort. Sandor is definitely of the camp that a quarter-note in the melody cannot be allowed to linger without embellishment. His is a prodigious talent, and every piece is arranged so that he is all over the keyboard before the ending. It would be nice to know more about him, but the liner notes seem to have vetoed any biographical information in favor of descriptions of the selections. If you like your ragtime where every cut is designed as a showpiece, then this initial CD by Alex Sandor is truly the cat’s meow."
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