Music by: James Scott
Lyrics by: none
Cover artist: unknown
One of the pioneers of the classic rag style was James Scott. This work
by Scott is a perfect example of a classic rag. Since Scott was one of the
main developers of the classic rag, as you would expect, this rag has the
sound and "feel" of what we most commonly associate with rags of
this period. It is published by Stark Music, the company that is most
associated with the classic rags.
James Sylvester Scott was born in Neosho Missouri in 1886. He studied
with other notable black composers of the period, including John Coleman
and later, Scott Joplin. He was one of Scott Joplin's disciples and along
with Joseph Lamb, helped create the Missouri "school" of rag
music. In 1902 he moved to Carthage, Missouri, and started work as a
handyman in Dumar's music store where one day he was discovered playing
the piano. When Dumar learned that Scott had been musically schooled, he
promoted him to salesman and song plugger. Dumar encouraged Scott and he
thought so much of Scott's music that he became his publisher.
In 1903, he
issued two of Scott's works, A Summer Breeze and Fascinator.
His first works clearly showed the influence of Joplin but also showed his
own originality. Scott stayed on with Dumar for twelve years or so and
during that time he visited St. Louis where he connected with Joplin in
1906. Joplin recognized a musician worthy of acceptance into his inner
circle of keyboard masters. Stark
published Scott’s “Frog Legs Rag” in 1907, and it became the second
leading moneymaker behind Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.”
Through Joplin, he was introduced to John Stark, who published for Joplin
and then took up Scott's publishing. In 1914 he moved to Kansas City where
he was married and began teaching. From around 1916 to 1926, Scott also
was an organist and musical arranger at the Panama Theater.
All this time,
Scott continued to write rags all the way till his last one, Broadway
Rag, in 1922. Frog Legs Rag is one of his earlier rags and
perhaps one of his most popular. He also wrote the Kansas City Rag
(1907) and The Great Scott Rag (1909). In addition to rags, he
also wrote some more traditional songs including Take Me Out To
Lakeside (1914) and The Shimmie Shake in 1920. In his later
years, Scott suffered from dropsy and was often in pain yet still
continued playing the piano. He died in a hospital in Springfield,
1938. His music is often compared to Joplin's and some experts have
described it as clearer and more lyrical than Joplin's. There is no doubt
that Frog Legs fits that description.
sequence, above information, background, and graphics are from
by permission from Rick Reublin.