James P. Johnson: Stride Piano Master
“Riffs”, an OKeh recording from 1929, is a perfect example of James P. Johnson’s Harlem stride style. Bob Hilbert’s excellent notes to our ninth Mosaic release, The Complete Edmond Hall / James P. Johnson / Sidney De Paris / Vic Dickenson Blue Note Sessions, defines his playing as “…always accurate, sure and perfectly articulated, and it always swung. He had a beautiful touch, instantly identifiable to anyone familiar with his recordings, a powerful left hand and a right hand that ‘sang while it danced’, in the words of one critic”. Johnson was even more improvisational than some others in the stride style as Hilbert remarks, “Due to the complexity of stride piano, most performers develop patterns from which they construct solos. Recordings show that their ‘improvisations’ remain little changed from take to take. With James P., however, spontaneity was the rule”.
-Scott WenzelView Video
Treasures In The Attic: Finding A Jazz Master’s Lost Orchestral Music
Back in the early 1990s, Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the S\u00e3o Paulo Symphony Orchestra, went on a journey to find lost manuscripts of forgotten James P. Johnson compositions for symphony orchestra. Very few jazz artists, especially before the 1950s, wrote in this hybrid form of jazz and classical music and it is fitting that one of the founding fathers of jazz would create such joyous music in this fashion. NPR’s “Weekend Edition” recalls this amazing discovery with Alsop as guest.
-Scott WenzelRead More