365

James P. Johnson: The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 piano solos

Mike Neely By

Sign in to view read count
The Original James P. Johnson goes a long way toward summing up the early history of jazz piano. The early jazz singer Ethel Waters stated, " All the hits you hear, now as then, originated with musicians like James P. Johnson . . . the rest of the hot piano boys . . . just followers and protegees of that great man, Jimmy Johnson."

This superb disc of Johnson piano solos was recorded by Smithsonian Folkways, from 1942 to1945. There is a stately documentary quality to the disc as Johnson literally plays through much of the early history of jazz piano. Johnson's importance is such that no history can do justice to the subject without coming to terms with the man who mastered and developed so many piano styles while garnering the respect of the best of his peers.

The Original James P. Johnson includes 18 compositions and 2 alternate takes. Of these 18 compositions Johnson composed 12, ranging from his 1914 "Daintiness Rag" to such classics as "Snowy Morning Blues" to his classical/jazz composition "Yamekraw - A Negro Fantasy." In addition, two W.C. Handy blues are included, a Scott Joplin rag, and a Gershwin tune, "Liza." The dates of the Johnson compositions range from the mid-teens up through the early 1940s.

Smithsonian Folkways has done a beautiful job of transferring the original recordings from the acetate masters, 78's, and analog tape safetys. The sound is excellent and the disc is long - over 73 minutes of music. Johnson's playing is precise and sophisticated; his compositional sense is pervasive in solos that unfold from an inward sense of structure. It's not often one can hear a master so consciously summing up an extraordinary career. Mr. Johnson offers a lesson for all who have interest in the primary sources of jazz, especially rags, and blues. Also, Johnson is widely considered the creator of stride piano, while in his day he was considered the style's finest player - the whole story is here for the listening.

In short, James P. Johnson is who early jazz pianist had to come to terms with simply because in many ways his commanding presence was the mainline of early jazz piano. He was the musician Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Teddy Wilson, and Art Tatum had to constructively react to on their way to becoming major pianists themselves; it is difficult to imagine a more meaningful compliment to the master, Mr. James P. Johnson. Highly recommended.


Track Listing: Liza; Aunt Hager?s Blues; Sweet Lorraine; Jersey Sweet; Yamekraw-A Negro Rhapsody; Daintiness Rag; The Dream; The Dream (alternate); Blue Moods; Keep Movin?; Woman Blues; Jazzamine Concerto; St. Louis Blues; Jungle Drums; Blue Moods, Sex; Euphonic Sounds; Twilight Rag; Snowy Morning Blues; Snowy Morning Blues (alternate); Blues for Jimmy. (73:44)

Personnel: James P. Johnson, solo piano.

| Record Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Hecho En Puerto Rico" CD/LP/Track Review Hecho En Puerto Rico
by James Nadal
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Southern Lights" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Lights
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Live in 1967 Volume Two" CD/LP/Track Review Live in 1967 Volume Two
by Doug Collette
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "All These Hands" CD/LP/Track Review All These Hands
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!