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James P. Johnson


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James P. Johnson (James Price Johnson, also known as Jimmy Johnson, February 1, 1894 – November 17, 1955) was an American pianist and composer.

A pioneer of the stride style of jazz piano, he along with Jelly Roll Morton, were arguably the two most important pianists who bridged the ragtime and jazz eras, and the two most important catalysts in the evolution of ragtime piano into jazz. As such, he was a model for Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and his more famous pupil, Fats Waller.

Johnson composed many hit tunes including the theme song of the Roaring Twenties, “Charleston” and “If I Could be With You One Hour Tonight” and remained the acknowledged king of New York jazz pianists until he was dethroned c. 1933 by the recently arrived Art Tatum, who is widely acknowledged by jazz critics as the most technically proficient jazz pianist of all time. Johnson’s artistry, his significance in the subsequent development of jazz piano, and his large contribution to American musical theatre, are often overlooked, and as such, he has been referred to by Reed College musicologist David Schiff, as “The Invisible Pianist”.

Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States. The proximity to New York meant that the full cosmopolitan spectrum of the city’s musical experience, from bars, to cabarets, to the symphony, were at the young Johnson’s disposal. In 1908 his family moved to the San Juan Hill (near where Lincoln Center stands today) section of New York City. With perfect pitch and excellent recall he was soon able to pick out on the piano tunes that he had heard.


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  • peykar

    legend [2]

    25 Aug 2013 Reply
  • DavidSmith98


    20 May 2013 Reply
  • insomniacme

    but thats what makes one cool

    27 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Parisblues

    There's a large choice of pictures without doing tabacco incitation. please vote.

    21 Aug 2011 Reply
  • Substance90

    I love the Snowy Morning Blues! That's real music!

    4 Jun 2011 Reply
  • johntardsbaby66

    If you watch Bessie Smith's 1929 movie, "St. Louis Blues", you can see a relatively young James P. Johnson at the piano. Kept good company.

    4 Sep 2010 Reply
  • Parisblues

    "liza ":

    16 Oct 2009 Reply
  • jpjscribe

    @LondonLouis...he was also a composer...bands have been known to, you know, play music composed by other artists...

    30 Sep 2009 Reply
  • LondonLouis is doing James P Johnson a great disservice. He was an excellent pianist, but you've hardly got one of his decent tracks up on the system. What you do have are versions of the Charleston and "Old Fashioned Love" which have nothing to do with the guy. Johnson is up there, just behind the giants like Tatum, Hines and Waller.

    6 Dec 2008 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    I doubt if this version of the Charleston has anything to do with the great James P Johnson, who was a stride pianist, not a band.

    6 Dec 2008 Reply

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