IN THE GROOVE MAGAZINE ARTICLE
by Steve Ramm
Johnny just got written up by Steve Ramm in In the Groove magazine.
Crazy Otto is still tickling the ivories – Anyone over 60 will remember the “Crazy Otto Medley” released on Dot Records in 1955. Comprised of a group of ragtime melodies composed by an obscure German composer, that single stayed on the charts for over 14 weeks and became the first million selling ragtime record! The artist was Tennessee-born piano player, Johnny Maddox and, at 81 he still lives in Tennessee, has his own Crazy Otto Music label and is still recording! Two recent releases arrived last month.
The first is not a new recording but rather the first release of a full performance by Maddox from 1965 recorded by a fan. Johnny Maddox Live at the Red Slipper Lounge has some great music but it’s got it’s problems too. The microphones were placed behind the piano to capture Maddox’s instrumentals. You can hardly hear his spoken introductions among the background noise of the bar. And Maddox starts off the show with what is called the “Prohibition Medley”. It consists of 45 songs on one, ultra-long, 29-minute track! (Indexing sure would have helped here.). Maddox’s piano skills are great, but then we get to the next muffled intro.
The second CD was recorded in the studio in 2007 and centers on Maddox’s massive sheet music collection. Kisses features new recordings of arrangements by Maddox of early 20th century songs (“Sweet and Low”, “That Naughty Waltz”, “Sonny Boy”) with Maddox accompanied by violin and cello obbligato. This is romantic style music with not a lot of passion. Colorful reproductions of sheet music covers dominate the CDs insert. Both CDs are available at www.crazyotto.com.