Rockin’ in Rhythm – Duke Ellington

The History of Piano Music and American Culture

Episode 4

Episode date - March 25, 2011

How Music Changed

    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

    Channel 15 - The History of Piano Music and American Culture