The Robert E. Lee (1997) is a neat little album of solo piano played by the famous musician Bob Milne, who is not only a top-notch ragtime pianist, music historian, and "national treasure" who performed at The Library of Congress in 2004, but also has the astonishing ability to "play" multiple tunes at once in his head, meaning that he can do incredible tricks like playing music in 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4 simultaneously. There's a fascinating article about his abilities at Mlive.com.
The CD title and the famous tune "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" both refer to the famous steamship which won a race from New Orleans to St. Louis in 1870.
I have had The Robert E. Lee sitting around for over a decade but only ever used one track, "Trouble in Mind", regularly, as an interesting change of style for when I DJ for modern blues dancers. Until I started teaching ragtime more often than usual this year I hadn't really gone through the rest of the album carefully. The CD wasn't recorded specifically for dancing, so some of the pieces don't have the regular rhythm one would desire, but about half of them are quite good for dancing, a few others are workable, and the piano playing is invariably a joy to listen to even for the less danceable tunes.
Here's how I'd use the music:
"Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" (1913) - 131 bpm
"Sailing Down the Chesapeake Bay" (1912) - 157 bpm
"Queen of Love" (1901) - 112 bpm speeding up to 120 bpm
The album's title tune is a classic ragtime piece and highly danceable. "Chesapeake Bay" is insanely fast but fun and could be slowed with software to a more functional speed. "Queen of Love" starts out as a fairly slow one-step and speeds up to a brisker tempo partway through.
Two-Step or Bluesy One-Step
"Peaceful Henry" (1901) - 78 bpm
One can two-step to just about anything in duple time. This version of the famous tune is played at a dreamy tempo that lets its "rag" elements shine and would also work as a slow, bluesy one-step.
"What'll We Do (On A Dew, Dew, Dewey Day) (1927)" - 88 bpm
"Dixie Queen Rag" (1906) - 84 bpm
"St. Louis Rag" (1903) - 83 bpm
"Pineapple Rag" (1908) - 88 bpm
The first of these is the best for foxtrotting. The other three are too early to have been meant as foxtrots and are not quite foxtrot in style, but their tempo falls into the foxtrot range and they will work for the dance, with "Dixie Queen" being the best.
The Charleston (1923) - 101 bpm
A gently-paced recording of the Charleston's name tune by James P. Johnson.
"Trouble in Mind" (c1925) - 84 bpm
As noted, this makes a dandy blues piece for either historical or modern blues dancers.
"The Entertainer" (1902) - 67 bpm
"Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) - 114 bpm
"Missouri Waltz" (1904) - 166 bpm
"When You & I Were Young, Maggie" (1866)
"The Piney Boogie" (Milne)
"Ouverture De La Grande Rodent" (Milne, 1997)
One can dance a sort of slow, trance-like schottische to "The Entertainer", but I'd rather just listen to it. Likewise, "Maple Leaf Rag" can technically be two-stepped to, but it's nicer as a rag for listening. "Missouri Waltz" is played with artsy tricks (pauses, tempo changes) that make it difficult to waltz to. "When You & I Were Young" is likewise artsy, and it does not really feel like any particular dance. Milne's own "Ouverture" is purely a concert composition, and his "Piney Boogie" starts out as slow blues then speeds up dramatically into a fast piece that could be swing in places but doesn't really "swing" consistently.
Though not all the tunes are danceable, enough are that, combined with the exquisite piano playing that makes this album a joy to listen to, it is a worthwhile purchase for historical dancers. It can be purchased (album or individual tracks) or streamed from Amazon via the link below: