RAPID RIVER (NORTH CAROLINA ARTS AND LITERATURE PAPER)
by James Cassara
Back Home In Tennessee/Cowboys And Indians/Where the Southern Cross The Yellow Dog
One listen to this trio of piano pyrotechnics, originally recorded in 1984 and left dormant until now, and you'll understand why no less an authority than W.C. Handy once called Maddox "the white boy with the colored fingers."
Maddox, whose career dates back to 1950 and includes nine gold records, a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and world wide sales approaching twenty-million, is both a lifelong musicologist (owning over 30,000 78 rpm records) and player extraordinaire. As an arranger Maddox has no peers. His interpretations of songs by Handy, Wills, Tenney, and other twentieth century American composers displays both a reverence for tradition and a commitment to elaboration bereft of blind adherence.
As a player he is equally unmatched, possessing an effortless ability to sustain rhythm and exercise flamboyancy born not of indulgence but rather of sheer joy. Maddox's gifted touch is both coercive and supple, a lesson in Americana that exhilarates and educates. In an era when Ragtime is sadly regulated to movie soundtracks and charity balls, Maddox, now well into his seventies, remains a lone voice in the wilderness.
The music is indispensable, the liner notes fascinating, and the playing is unparalleled: Needless to say all three discs are highly recommended.