The History of Piano Music and American Culture
Episode date - March 25, 2011
When I started to plan for this series, it felt near impossible to cover the early history of piano with any degree of chronological accuracy.
My reasoning was fairly simple – piano players tended to move in at least two distinct directions simultaneously, and if I were to cover the styles exclusively by chronological means, it would be difficult to discern the relationship from one player and/or style to the next. For that reason I opted to cover the stride players first, who borrowed extensively from the popular songbook and moved in a distinctly jazz-influenced direction, until they hit a wall when Art Tatum proved that you simply could go no further than he did.
The second school of piano players were much more simple and direct in their approach, basing their style on the blues and the fundamental rhythms of dance music. This group came to be known as the boogie-woogie piano players. In their time they were never as famous as Fats Waller or Art Tatum, but their influence was insidious and eventually, overwhelming.
In this show we cover a bit of both styles, finishing our focus on the stride players, and then bouncing back to the early twenties to cover the birth of the boogie.
Songs featured in today’s show include;
Glad Rag Doll – Earl Hines
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Art Tatum
Taboo – Art Tatum
My Last Affair – Art Tatum
Black Beauty – Duke Ellington
Echoes of Harlem – Duke Ellington
Fifth Dimension – Mary Lou Williams
Honky Tonk Train Blues – Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis
Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie – Pine Top Smith
Boogie Woogie – Tommy Dorsey
Boogie Woogie Stomp – Albert Ammons
Rockin’ in Rhythm – Duke Ellington