Saturday, February 21, 2015

Banta and Hylands,the natural pianists of Edison and Columbia

Frank P. Banta(1870-1903)
"Freddy" Hylands(1872-1913)
Many Ragtimers of to-day know Frank P. Banta as the father of the younger Frank E. Banta who was a famous pianist with Fred Van Eps and a pianist in the jazz age. The elder Frank Banta was a Ragtimer in the late 1890's and early 1900's whose piano accompaniments can be heard on many Edison Brown wax and early gold moulded cylinders. Banta's style on the piano was much more typical of the time period than his rival in recording Frederick(his friends called him "Freddy") Hylands who had a style very unusual and unique for the early Ragtime era. 

Banta was very classically oriented, even though he had a reasonable  Ragtime output by 1903. He was a natural pianist, but had a typical view on Ragtime of the time period, he did not possess the true feel of a cakewalk or a St. Louis rag. His style of classical orientation can be heard in the very rare piano solo below:
(beware, it's a very messy cylinder, but it's Banta himself!)

I hope you listened as closely as you could! It's a bear to try to decipher! 
unfortunately for Banta, he did not have the best Genes to live very long, so at the height of his recording career, he died very suddenly, and all the Edison staff mourned him, and Albert Benzler was then Edison's pianist. 
For "Shits and Giggles" I want to show the remake of the same cylinder from 1905 that Benzler tried his best to replicate Banta's mastery. 
He was SO close, but no cigar! 
I can just hear those differences! 

Unfortunately, Columbia did not seem to record any solos by Hylands(even though I strongly agree on the theory that they probably did at some point prior to 1900). Hylands' style was very progressive, in the sense that he added quick walking bass-lines all over the place(that's one good way to identify his accompaniment, but it's not the most efficient), and he added heavy syncopation before that became very popular. What I mean by that is that he was playing melodies like "Maple Leaf Rag" before its publication in 1899. Hylands was playing this sort of thing as early as 1896 or 1897! In being slightly older than Ben R. Harney(the "Inventor of Ragtime"), it is likely that as soon as he reached the east coast in 1896 that Harney recognized this new Rag-Timer and found his presence on the new music scene a challenge to his popularity in this new type of music. 
Hylands must have influenced Harney just a little, as this is ever so slightly relevant in his compositions after 1897. And after Hylands got his first true place in the east coast theatre, he was rotating places with Mike Bernard in the same orchestra pit, so it's very likely that when Bernard first heard the older Hylands, he lifted several of the things that he played and used it in his performances and in his compositions. Some Hylands-esque things can be heard in the links below of Mike Bernard's piano solos recorded between 1911 and 1913:

Bernard performing Wallie Herzer's "Everybody Two-Step":
Bernard playing F. M. Fagan's "That Peculiar Rag 

Hmm. Kinda suspicious, I hear some "Freddy" Hylands in him(aside for the very Ben Harney like things here and there) ...
compare that to this(I know that I have used this link before) :
It's just a perfect example of Hylands' ragtime style, and an early one too! 

Hylands' birthday is sometime this month, so in this post I wish my birthday respects to him! 

No comments:

Post a Comment