Mimi Blais is a classically trained pianist based in Montreal, Quebec. About 1990, she stumbled across some sheet music by a little known Quebec composer and theatre pianist, Jean-Baptiste Lafreniere. Mimi became quite excited with Lafreniere’s ragtime style and decided to pursue it in depth. This led her to the work of other composers such as Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb and Tom Turpin.
I met Mimi when she performed at a small traditional jazz concert in Upper New York State in 1990 and saw her again in 1991. It didn’t take very long for Ms. Blais to gain an enviable reputation as a ragtime player and is now referred to as the "Queen of Ragtime."
Please don’t confuse "ragtime" with the popular style of "honky-tonk" piano. Ragtime is a highly structured music and adheres to standards set about 1900. The fans are both enthusiastic and critical. They want their rags played as they were written and never hesitate to chastise any performer who throws in gimmicks. On the other hand, the audience is anxious to hear new rags that conform to the time honored traditions of the early practitioners of the music.
Mimi Blais has crafted her newest CD carefully in order to appeal to a very informed audience. "Old Rags New Rags" incorporates the works of the pioneers Tom Turpin, Joseph Lamb, Zez Confrey, Lafreniere and Lucky Roberts with the new rags of Frank French, Glenn Jenks and Galen Wilkes. Mimi’s own "La Dinde" (The Turkey) and "Le Rag-a-Nat" (Monkey Rag) are also included.
All performances are solo piano and carried out with both good taste and enthusiasm. Blais is a great traditional performer and is very much in demand at ragtime conventions and concerts around the globe. This is classic ragtime at its best. The tune titles are listed at the Mimi Blais website. This CD is recommended to ragtime purists and to those who are curious about a style of music that contributed a great deal to the roots of jazz.