Friday afternoon’s People’s Health Economy Hall Tent set by Lars Edegran and the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra featured charmingly vintage music, originally popular from the late 1890s through the early decades of the 20th century.
Inevitably, a few second-line processions sprung up during the show.
Selections included pieces by the famous Scott Joplin and, one of the few female composers of ragtime music, May Aufderheide.
The seven-piece New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra performed Aufderheide’s “Dusty Rag,” a piece recorded by New Orleans’ own Bunk Johnson. He recorded her “Thriller Rag,” too, which is certainly a ringing endorsement.
Ragtime music it more formal and structured that its cousin, jazz. More European too. Militaristic beats and melodies, albeit swinging, figure in the style, too.
Edegran, the group’s leader, played from sheet music, as did the rest of the band members, except when the musicians played improvised solos.
Despite the sheet music, the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra definitely swung, even in the militaristic pieces. Some selections were laid-back, but none were lazy.
Edegran, a pianist from Sweden who moved to New Orleans in 1966, founded the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra the following year. The 2015 Jazz Fest is the first Jazz Fest performance for the group since the death of its longtime singer-trumpeter, Lionel Ferbos, a member of the group for 44 years.
Ferbos died July 19 at 103. Friday’s Ragtime Orchestra show at Jazz Fest featured some of his favorite songs and multiple mentions of the traditional jazz musician.
The set’s Ferbos favorites included “Some of These Days,” the song he opened his weekly shows up with at the Palm Court Jazz Café. Also “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate.” It started mellow, but built to genuine musical excitement, the kind that may well have been heard in a New Orleans dancehall 100 years ago.