Ethan Uslan was trained as a classical pianist, but that all changed when he ran into ragtime.
“When I discovered the music of the 1920s, it didn’t really seem that old fashioned to me in comparison. In fact, I think it sounds pretty fresh and hip,” the Charlotte-based Mr. Uslan said the other day.
Listen to an audio interview and clips of Mr. Uslan below.
Mr. Uslan will be featured in the next Music @ St. Alban’s concert this Sunday, Feb. 5, when he plays a two-part program: a concert of syncopated music from the jazz age, followed by a live accompaniment to Buster Keaton’s 1924 silent film “Sherlock Junior.”
In the film, Keaton plays an outlandish detective whose adventures culminate in one of cinema’s most elaborate and unforgettable chase scenes.
And a silent one. Mr. Uslan (YOO-slin) is just the man for the job of playing along. In an interview, he said he watches a film and develops a series of cues for different types of music appropriate to each scene.
The New Jersey-born Mr. Uslan studied classical piano as a child and was trained in classical piano performance at Indiana University. But lured by an “addiction” to ragtime, he ditched classical and launched a career as a performer of ragtime and traditional jazz.
Now living in Charlotte, he is a past winner of the World Championship of Old-time Piano Playing in Peoria, Ill. He has appeared in concerts and festivals nationwide, as well as on National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” (He said the “Prairie Home” appearance helped launch him into a full-time musical career.)
He has several recordings to his credit and has played accompaniment on a couple of silent film DVDs, including a collection of Charlie Chaplin’s early “Keystone” films.
You might catch him around Charlotte one of these nights. He plays regularly at Petra’s Biano Bar and Cabaret and Cafe Monte.
He said he doesn’t live on the road, “but I do go out of town when there’s a good opportunity.” He’ll be in Belgium in June.
And this Sunday, he’ll be at Davidson’s St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. (Yep, same time as that big football game.)
JAZZ PIANO AND SILENT FILM
Sunday, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m., St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Davidson. Charlotte pianist Ethan Uslan will perform music from the jazz age, then provide musical accompaniment to Buster Keaton’s 1924 silent classic “Sherlock Junior” Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 seniors, children under age 12 admitted free. Tickets available at the door or by calling 704-941-0650. On the web: musicatstalbans.net or www.uslanmusic.com
4-MIN. INTERVIEW: ETHAN USLAN
Click the play button to listen to a short interview with Ethan Uslan by DavidsonNews.net’s David Boraks. Music clips played by Uslan. Can’t see the player or hear the audio? Click here.
(MP3, 5 mins., 15 sec.)