Ronald Jenkees: ‘Stay crunchy’ (‘Disorganized fun’)  [4’07”]

Ronald Jenkees, e-piano

“Hello Youtoobs … ”

The endearingly unassuming Kentuckian Ronald Jenkees didn’t learn at the hands of an older master, has never been near a conservatoire, and admits that his one attempt to get to grips with musical notation amounted to what his admirers would term an epic fail.  So who the heck is Ronald, and more to the point what is he doing here with Johann Sebastian, Ludwig and the rest?  Well, idiosyncratic as he is, he’s a characteristic product of the age we live in, one of them-there internet sensations (65 million YouTube views and counting), and he’s here because he composes tuneful, life-affirming keyboard pieces like this brilliantly-titled example (why Stay crunchy, you ask?) from his no less brilliantly-titled 2009 album Disorganized fun, a collection of tracks first presented to the world from his room via the medium of – you guessed it – YouTube.

It’s great, don’t you agree?  Not capital G Great, of course, definitely lower case, colloquial-sense great.  Is it then possible to claim that this is where the line of succession of great keyboard masters, the one that passed through François Couperin and JS Bach, Chopin and Debussy, has reached in our own day?  Of course not.  Rather, the Ronald Jenkees phenomenon is just one among a growing multitude illustrating what seems an unarguable truth: that whatever else may be said about the musical landscape in the early decades of the twenty-first century, there is no royal road crossing it, barely as much as a trace remaining of ideas like ‘legitimacy’ – though of course no shortage of ‘serious’ composers alongside everything else.  To put the matter more positively, wonderful stuff such as this is nowadays likely to come flying through the ether from any angle – we just need to keep our ears open and our antennae tuned to receive it.

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