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Tom Brier



Tom Brier is an American ragtime pianist and composer.


The hallmark of Brier's piano-playing style is an aggressive left hand that attacks the lower half of the piano keyboard in staccato, machine-gun-like octave passages. He alternates these voicings with a variety of other sounds: walking bass ("boogie"), single-note figures, and widely-spaced chords – often both arpeggiated and unarpeggiated tenths.


Born in Oakdale, California in 1971, Tom Brier was exposed to ragtime in his earliest years when his parents purchased a player piano. He was all of four years old at the time.


Soon, he was picking out on the piano keyboard the ragtime tunes he'd heard off the piano rolls. His parents found him a music teacher when he was five, and very shortly, he was composing and notating his own piano pieces. By the age of 11, he had composed and written the scores to some two dozen rags.


His first "serious" ragtime piece was the "Pine Cone Rag" of 1982, when Brier was 11 years old. Three years later, he began attending gatherings of the Sacramento Ragtime Society. The 14-year-old prodigy amazed everyone within earshot with his articulate renderings of the ragtime classics, and with his own highly original piano compositions.


Tom Brier performed at his first West Coast Ragtime Festival in 1989. He has been a headliner every year since, astounding onlookers with his machine-like precision, sensitive interpretations of more lyrical pieces, and nearly flawless sight-reading technique.


While pursuing his ragtime "education," Brier has also achieved a college education. He attended the California State University at Turlock, obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 1993.


Over the last few years, Brier has also begun to augment his collection of original pieces of ragtime sheet music, with a collection numbering over 1,000. And, since 1982, he has composed and printed complete, notated scores to over 100 original ragtime compositions.


Brier has also headlined at the annual ragtime festivals in Sutter Creek and Fullerton, Calif. He has been a regular performer at the "Ragtime Corner" sponsored by the Sacramento Ragtime Society each Memorial Day weekend at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. He has also appeared in Sedalia and Columbia, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Vienna, Virginia (Washington, D.C. area).


To date, Brier has released seven solo albums and collaboration album with Nan Bostick.


Rising Star (1994)

Generic (1997)

Pianola (2000)

Dualing at the McCoys (with Nan Bostick, 2002)

Skeletons (2003)

Rewind (2006)

Blue Sahara (2009)

Constellations (2012)


In 2016, Tom Brier was injured in a rear-end collision that left him severely brain damaged. The accident cost him his ability to write, walk, speak, and play piano. He currently resides with his parents in Oakdale, and is receiving ongoing support for his condition from UC Davis. Tom's family is hopeful that he will continue to improve and his friends hope that he may one day return to composition.


Selected Performances


Breadline Blues - This is a fantastic slow blues piece by Brier. I'm not sure the exact year it was written, but is included in Brier's album Constellations which came out in 2012.


Locating the Music

There are a decent number of Brier transcriptions at MuseScore. They all seem of high quality Brier also has a folio of his ragtime compositions available at his website.


List of Solo Piano Compositions

While Brier has written over 200 piano compositions, there doesn't seem to be any definitive listings of these compositions as well as the year they were written. The below list just gives the compositions from his solo piano recordings.


Texas Tommy Swing (from 'Rising Star')

Rising Star (from 'Rising Star')

Corn-Shucks (from 'Rising Star')

An Autumn Memory (from 'Rising Star')

Stein's Ball (from 'Rising Star')

Olympia Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Gold Dust Twins Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Rose Blossoms (from 'Rising Star')

Wizzle Dozzle (from 'Rising Star')

Brier Patch Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Little Bit Of Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Rainy Day Blues (from 'Rising Star')

Piccalilli Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Spanish Moss (from 'Rising Star')

Shiftless Sam (from 'Rising Star')

Three Sisters (from 'Rising Star')

A Certain Party (from 'Rising Star')

La Paleta (from 'Rising Star')

Mississippi Smilax (from 'Rising Star')

The Wish-bone Rag (from 'Rising Star')

Just Peachy (from 'Rising Star')

Overture (from 'Generic')

Sweet Potatoes (from 'Generic')

Hot-Sauce One Step (from 'Generic')

Tattered Melody (from 'Generic')

Prim And Proper (from 'Generic')

The Tickler (from 'Generic')

The Garden Walk (from 'Generic')

That Futuristic Rag (from 'Generic')

D-Lite (from 'Generic')

One Of The Boys (from 'Generic')

Sonora Rag (from 'Generic')

Snowball Rag (from 'Generic')

The Temperamental Rag (from 'Generic')

Rubber Neck Jim (from 'Generic')

Wellington Rag (from 'Generic')

Liz's Rag (from 'Generic')

Pine Cone Rag (from 'Pianola')

Fluffy Ruffle Girls Rag (from 'Pianola')

Anaconda: Amazon Rag (from 'Pianola')

The White Seal Rag (from 'Pianola')

One Too Many (from 'Pianola')

Tackin 'Em Down (from 'Pianola')

Wind 'Em Up (from 'Pianola')

Ain't You Coming Out Malinda? (from 'Pianola')

Lucky Me (from 'Pianola')

Omeomy (from 'Pianola')

A Barrel-House Brawl (from 'Pianola')

Diego's Rag (from 'Pianola')

That Captivating Rag (from 'Pianola')

Father Knickerbocker (from 'Pianola')

Affinity Rag (from 'Pianola')

Uncle James (from 'Pianola')

After You Get What You Want (You Don't Want It) (from 'Pianola')

Lazy Jazz Waltz: Sweet Hawaiian Moonlight (from 'Pianola')

Crunchin' The Keys (from 'Pianola')

Somewhere (from 'Pianola')

Frisky Fingers (from 'Pianola')

Get This (from 'Rewind')

That American Rag (from 'Rewind')

Fluffy Ruffles (from 'Rewind')

Cassandra (from 'Rewind')

Cradle-Rock (from 'Rewind')

The Gateway To Michigan (from 'Rewind')

That Dahm Rag (from 'Rewind')

Queen Of The Roses (from 'Rewind')

Jelly Roll Fox-Trot (from 'Rewind')

Squirrel Food Rag (from 'Rewind')

Lolita (from 'Rewind')

How Reuben Does The Rag (from 'Rewind')

Hearts Are Trumps (from 'Rewind')

The Alabama Blues (from 'Rewind')

S.O.S. (from 'Rewind')

The Twirler (from 'Rewind')

The Midnight Whirl (from 'Rewind')

Step It Up (from 'Blue Sahara')

Parallelograms (from 'Blue Sahara')

Olivewood Fox Trot (from 'Blue Sahara')

Cookie-Cutter Rag (from 'Blue Sahara')

Evening Mist (from 'Blue Sahara')

No Foolin' (from 'Blue Sahara')

Cedar Crest (from 'Blue Sahara')

Blue Sahara (from 'Blue Sahara')

Peril In Pantomime (from 'Blue Sahara')

Doghouse Blues (from 'Blue Sahara')

Terra Vertigo (from 'Blue Sahara')

The Stygian Waltzes (from 'Blue Sahara')

A Fable - Parts 1-4 (from 'Blue Sahara')

Over The Top (from 'Constellations')

Elephant Tracks (from 'Constellations')

Strollin' (from 'Constellations')

Meditation (from 'Constellations')

Balderdash! (from 'Constellations')

Blackberry Fox Trot (from 'Constellations')

Sunlight And Shadow (from 'Constellations')

Skunk Hollow Rag (from 'Constellations')

Breadline Blues (from 'Constellations')

Blue Lampshade (from 'Constellations')

Cepheus (from 'Constellations')

Triangulum (from 'Constellations')

Cassiopeia (from 'Constellations')

Cetus (from 'Constellations')

Carmine (from 'Constellations')

Razor Blades (from 'Constellations')

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