Juke Joint Saturday Night: Classic Piano Blues Rags & Stomps

Juke Joint Saturday Night: Classic Piano Blues Rags & Stomps


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Capable of producing music at a sufficient volume, the piano was a widely popular instrument in African-American entertainment spots across the south in the 1920s and 1930s. Like the guitar, its ability to combine harmony and melody simultaneously also made it very versatile for both solo performance and group accompaniment. Juke Joint Saturday Night collects 23 of the sort of piano "blues, rags, and stomps" one might have heard at a weekend hot spot during the early part of the century. Kicking off with a pair of dazzling piano instrumentals from "Jabo" Williams, the compilation highlights barrelhouse players Louis Johnson, James Wiggins, Little Brother Montgomery, Skip James, and many more. Best known for his inimitable guitar pieces, James had an equally unique approach to the piano. "22-20 Blues" demonstrates his wild, animated attack. The song is answered immediately with James Wiggins' "Forty-Four Blues." Also included is the tamer but no less accomplished "If You Haven't Any Hay," featuring James' call and response piano work and a shuffle rhythm provided by his feet. The Mississippi bluesman acquired the melody for his "Special Rider Blues" from Little Brother Montgomery, in exchange for teaching the latter "Vicksburg Blues." A showcase for his milky vibrato and punctuated with unusual bass runs, "Vicksburg" would become Montgomery's most popular number. Another prominent presence on Juke Joint, Louise Johnson, first recorded at a session arranged by Charlie Patton. Johnson's vibrant and bawdy "On the Wall" was apparently representative of her fast-living reputation. By the late '30s, jazz and other urban music styles began eclipsing country-blues in popularity. While the brass and woodwind instruments began replacing acoustic guitars, the piano managed to survive. Musicians like Roosevelt Sykes (heard here on "3-6 and 9") bridged the gap between the older blues and the developing jazz, spanning both during his successful career. Like many Yazoo releases, Juke Joint offers a portrait of a style in one of its purest forms, before times and tastes forced it to change.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/23/2000
Label: Yazoo
UPC: 0016351205322
catalogNumber: 2053
Rank: 38433

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