The boogie woogie piano style was first recorded around 1929, and this compilation includes the three most famous exponents of the genre, together with the player who had the most blues-inflected style. The latter was Jimmy Yancey, who did not begin recording until April 1939, when he cut a total of eighteen titles. Only two of them were issued at the time, but eight were issued subsequently on a 10" London LP, and form the earliest segment of this compilation. Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons plus drum accompaniment produced "8 to the Bar" in mid-1941 for RCA Victor, who issued it first as an album of four 78s, and than as both a set of four 45s and a 10" LP.
Albert Ammons recorded eight tracks with varied accompaniments, over three sessions between 1946 and 1949, and they were issued in 1950 on a 10" Mercury LP. Meade Lux Lewis is represented by two 10" Verve LPs, "Yancey's Last Ride", recorded in June 1954 with Louie Bellson on drums, and "Cat House Piano" with Red Callender on bass and Jo Jones on drums, which dates from January 1955. By way of filler an EP by Pete Johnson is included, which includes an unidentified electric guitarist, was probably recorded in 1957, and was issued in the UK on the Top Rank label in 1959.
Meade Lux Lewis was the best-known, thanks to his masterpiece "Honky Tonk Train Blues", and his energetic playing is well to the fore here, playing all his own compositions. Albert Ammons was a powerful player, and can be heard both leading a small group, and with Pete Johnson, duetting on their own compositions. Jimmy Yancey was the most introspective of the four, and what his recordings lack in technical virtuosity they make up for in depth of feeling. Most boogie woogie anthologies concentrate on the protagonists' shellac recordings, and this one is to be welcomed for focussing on the somewhat later, and significantly rarer recordings. In short, this is a superb compilation, excellently remastered, which should be snapped up at this price.
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Many aficionados of jazz are familiar with the great "boogie" pianists and their compatriots who played "barrelhouse" or "stride" all different genres to the expert. Many of these pianists had recorded careers starting in the 1920s e.g.,Willie The Lion, Pinetop Smith etc. The notable period for "Boogie Woogie" was probably a bit later into the 1940s when the Ammons and Johnson recordings here were produced.
The earliest recordings here are those of Jimmy Yancey (1939). There are few recordings by Yancey, and everyone is a treasure. My favourite is "At The Window" (not included here). Yancey is almost beyond category. His style is unique. Of course his main "career" was groundsman at the Chicago White Sox baseball ground. He got the odd job playing piano in drinking parlours or at rent parties. The recordings here are a valuable addition to other material available elsewhere. Both Lewis and Ammons were taxi drivers and part-time pianists before being commercially "discovered".
The Ammons / Johnson recordings are from the forties, obviously recorded for 78rpm (the L.P. wasn't available until the early 1950s). The Lewis recordings come from the mid 1950s, and were obviously cut for vinyl LP.
For anyone wanting a collection of "classic" piano music in the "Boogie" style this is a valuable asset. Overall there are 42 tracks; probably best not played in one sitting. By the way, these are not all piano solo recordings. Other instruments are on some of the tracks, but the majority are solo (duet) piano perhaps with drum accompaniment.
Finally the recordings have been cleaned up admirably by Avid engineers, and accompanying booklet first class.
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Incredible value. contains six important albums at this price and the recording quality is good,although obviously not quite as good as if the performances were recent. However there is so much good stuff here that at this price it has to be the bargain of the year, especially as it contains some excellent Jimmy Yancey that was new to me.
I have recently got into boogie woogie piano after watching a programme about big bands during the war and the origins of the music. Fantastic value, I really love this collection and am very pleased with it!