Piano Jazz



The pianists were different, they worked by themselves.

Scott Joplin and the Sedelia Ragtime.

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans jazz.

James P Johnson (1891- 1955) was from New Jersey, 'local' to New York City. He was a Harlem pianist who bridged Ragtime and stride and wrote songs. James P learned all Scott Joplin. 'Carolina Shout' 1918.

By 1920 James P had gained a reputation on the East coast on a par with Eubie Blake and Luckey Roberts.

He was The Stride of The Harlem Renaissance, of Rent parties and of 'Charleston' ... the first Jazz pianist, 'If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)', 'You've Got to Be Modernistic', 'Don't Cry, Baby', 'Keep off the Grass', 'Old Fashioned Love', 'A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid' and 'Snowy Morning Blues'.

Willie 'the Lion' Smith (1893-1973) was his protegé.

Jimmy Yancey (1894-1951) was a Chicago man with barrelhouse Blues in his blood. He established the Boogie Woogie style with that motoring repeated left hand figure.

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was a Harlem piano man but his band was his instrument.

Earl Hines (1903-83) played with Louis on the Hot 5 and led a big swing band. He was the father of Modern Jazz piano and 'trumpet' style.

Thomas 'Fats' Waller (1904-43) was unique, the Honorary Mayor of Harlem. James P was his mentor. Fats wrote 400 songs. A great friend of Spencer Williams.

Meade Lux Lewis (1905-64) was a protegé of Yancey and famous for his rollickin' 'Honky Tonk Train Blues' 1927. His mates were Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson ... what a trio!

Art Tatum (1909-56) hit town in 1932 and 'God was in the house' at 'Morgans'.

Teddy Wilson (1912-86) joined Goodman and inspired George Shearing.

Thelonius Monk (1917-82) was a very logical eccentric, steeped in stride, Ellington and the blues, playing all his own music in a masterful percussive style ... 

Monk was widely regarded as one of the most important composers in jazz, as well as being a highly original pianist. His playing was more sparse than most of his contemporaries. 

George Shearing (1919-2011), Errol Garner (1921-77) and Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) were a sub-group of modern pianists who started as 'swing' players, influenced by Hines, Wilson and inevitably Tatum.

Bud Powell (1924-66) was the leading Bebop pianist.

Bill Evans learned from Powell and contributed to 'Kind of Blue'.

Herbie Hancock

Chick Corea

Keith Jarrett


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