Texan-born Hoyle Osbourne has been playing music for many years, and since
1990 has used the Diamond Belle Saloon of the Strater Hotel in Durango, CO
as his home base. "Live At The Diamond Belle" was recorded on in February
1996, and showcases Osbourne's talents as a pianist, encompassing ragtime,
blues, jazz and even tango styles. All of the album's 17 compositions were
played on the saloon's lovingly restored 1909 Steinway Vertegrand.
The album opens with "Black and White Rag," a tune that is familiar to the
more mature members of the British public, having been used as the theme
tune for a popular TV snooker show. It demonstrates that Osbourne
certainly knows his stuff, and shows off the beautiful sound of the
saloon's piano. It is the first of several ragtime pieces here, which
include four compositions from Scott Joplin, including two of his most
readily recognizable tunes, "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer."
All of the pieces are solo piano arrangements, which works well for most of
the tracks. The main exception is "Tiger Rag," where the lack of trombone
(as featured on the Louis Armstrong recordings) means that the tune seems a
little lightweight. Elsewhere there is a boogie woogie version of W.C.
Handy's "St. Louis Blues," as well as a return to that music's origins with
"The Original Boogie Woogie" which came from Pinetop Smith.
The only original tune here, "Shootin' The Rapids," was written in
1992. It has a much older feel to it, however, and sounds like it could
have been written specially for one of the old silent movies. In fact, it
was originally written as music for a robbery in a production of The
"Live At The Diamond Belle" shows that Hoyle Osbourne can certainly play
piano. The only minor misgiving about the album is that it seems a little
anachronistic outside of the live setting. There are few people who could
pull off playing an album of old (mainly ragtime) instrumentals. The
quality of Osbourne's musicianship is not in any doubt, however, and fans
of the older styles of blues and ragtime piano will find plenty here to
admire. The CD is available from Osbourne's web site (www.hoyleosborne.com).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.