Music: King of the Ragtimers

The syncopated cakewalking craze called ragtime was born just before the turn of the 20th Century and died in the blaze of jazz with World War I. To most jazz fans of today, it sounds like something still on the stalk. To bearded Jazz Pedant Rudi (Shining Trumpets) Blesh and Harriet Janis, it is "music of enduring worth, revolutionary in concept and development." In a rambling, diffuse, but "true story of an American music" published last week under the title They All Played Ragtime (Knopf; $4), Co-Authors Blesh and Janis lovingly tell the tale...

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