Barron Ryan Cracks Tiger Rag for Its 100th Anniversary!

Barron Ryan – Photo by Daniel Folkers

On the 100th anniversary of its debut, played by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, Barron Ryan has released Tiger Rag as a single on his eponymous label.

Tiger Rag is one of the most complex pieces of popular music ever composed and it took Ryan 18 months to crack it. Watch him play it and talk about the journey to mastering it.

Tiger Rag is featured on Ryan’s new album, The Master’s Apprentice.

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Originally Recorded in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the original recording of “Tiger Rag”, contemporary jazz pianist Barron Ryan has released his rendition of the jazz standard.

The song was originally recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917. It is one of the most recorded jazz compositions of all time. In 2003, the 1918 ODJB recording of “Tiger Rag” was placed on the U.S. Library of Congress National Recording Registry.

“Tiger Rag” became a standard, with over 136 cover versions by 1942 alone. Famous artists who covered the song included Art Tatum, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra (in a version with lyrics), Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, and Louis Armstrong, who released the song at least three times as a single. Barron Ryan hopes to introduce the classic to a new generation of jazz enthusiasts.

“’Tiger Rag’ is my equivalent to summiting Mt. Everest or winning Olympic gold,” states Barron. “This particular rendition, recorded originally by Art Tatum, lasts two and a half minutes but required over 500 hours of practice to master. It’s the most difficult piece of music I’ve ever learned, and to have conquered it means to me that there’s no musical challenge too big for me to handle. It’s also special that my album featuring ‘Tiger Rag’ is coming out exactly 100 years its first recording by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917.”

The preparation to record this tune was arduous to say the least. Barron began the process five years ago, and it nearly ended his performing career. That’s because the challenges ‘Tiger Rag’ present are so great. “I didn’t know how to approach them. In my frustration, I made an ill-fated practice decision that partially impaired my playing ability for eighteen months and threatened to become permanent.” Thankfully, he returned to full strength, after which he was determined to conquer the one tune that almost conquered him.