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Hundreds of Sacramento Jazz and Ragtime fans caravaned to the famed Woodland Opera House Friday night to hear the equally famous Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra from Norway. Norway? Ragtime? Yes, and they played their repetoire in the spirit of most European bands who specialize in native American music.
The nine-piece aggregation was well-rehearsed and had that kind of relaxed approach that comes from lots of rehearsal. The leader, peanist Gunnar Morton Larsen certainly knows how to recreate the ragtime genre, going back to its early roots for tempos, orchestrations and execution. He also played his usual Jelly Roll Morton tunes with the kind of respect that makes them sound fresh even though 100 years have gone by.
Each member of the Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra also happens to be a part-time commedian as they pull off wacky set-gags before, during and after playing a tune. It helps lighten up the evening and telegraphs to the audience that music can be serious as well as fun.
The orchestra got a standing ovation at the end and was called back for an encore tune that led to another standiang ovation. Then the rush was on to buy their DVD's.
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Burt Wilson is a long-time Sacramento jazz musician and leader of the Silver Dollar Jazz Band