Hardly any ragtime here – despite the title – and instead, the album's one of the greatest ever from drummer Beaver Harris – cut with his ultra-hip 360 Degree Music Experience group! The title is somewhat accurate in that the record brings together a long history of jazz-based expression – almost a century's worth of music, served up by Harris and the group members with the same fluid sensibility as Jaki Byard in his best work, although Byard was never this ambitious! The ensemble is somewhat large, but really comes together well – with an impressive range of artists who include Doc Cheatham on trumpet, Marshall Brown
on trombone, Dave Burrell on piano, Keith Marks on flute, Cecil McBee and Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Maxine
Sullivan and Bill Willingham on vocals. The album's sort of a mini-history of jazz, but one that's hardly hokey at all – and which usually veers towards Harris' more righteous modes of the 70s, even when hitting older styles. Sullivan is especially great – singing here as a sophisticated soul jazz diva of the 70s, and hardly the older-styled singer we might expect. A few moments are stripped down and percussive – and other odd instrumentation includes a bit of sitar and steel drums. Titles include "It's Hard To But We Do", "I Wish I Knew", "Can There Be Peace?", "Down In Brazil", "African Drums", and "Round Trip".
(Cover has some edge wear.)