Harlem Stride Pianists (MUSC 231 Jazz History)

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Narrated slide show for my jazz history class (snow day)

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Harlem Stride Pianists (MUSC 231 Jazz History)

  1. 1. Turn on your sound! HARLEM STRIDE PIANISTS
  2. 2. Watch "Flappers" (just for fun) JAZZ IN NEW YORK CITY In the early days of jazz, New Yorkers saw jazz mainly as a type of entertainment and dance music—it was not taken very seriously  But by the end of the 1920s, New York had become the center of jazz development  Jazz musicians came to New York because it was the entertainment capital of the nation—they came to get national exposure and backing  The heart of the U.S. song publishing and sheet music business was Tin Pan Alley—many musicians got their start here as song pluggers 
  3. 3. THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE The neighborhood of Harlem became the center of African American culture in the 1920s, with a new, educated black class  Black artists and writers such as Langston Hughes created novels and plays expressing aspects of black culture  Composers like William Grant Still wrote symphonies and concert works based on African American themes  Jazz was an important part of the Renaissance as well—jazz musicians, singers, arrangers, and bandleaders had plenty of success in Harlem 
  4. 4. HARLEM STRIDE PIANISTS Many early jazz pianists came from the East Coast rather than New Orleans or Chicago  These pianists could improvise rags and embellish written music in the style of rags  They also introduced the stride style of playing    Stride developed from ragtime, but it was faster, more virtuosic, incorporated blues elements, and featured more improvisation Harlem stride pianists such as Luckey Roberts, James P. Johnson, and Willie “The Lion” Smith played in neighborhood rent parties and competed against other pianists in cutting contests
  5. 5. JAMES P. JOHNSON Known as the “Father of Stride Piano”  Came from New Jersey rather than New Orleans, developing an “East Coast style” of playing  He developed his style playing dance music at clubs in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen  He won many contests by the speed, precision, and dexterity of his playing  Like Scott Joplin, he composed symphonic music, ballet, and opera  He was also heavily involved with Broadway theater 
  6. 6. A FEW JOHNSON RECORDINGS “Carolina Shout”  “You’ve Got to Be Modernistic”  “The Charleston”  “Snowy Morning Blues”  “Riffs” 
  7. 7. FATS WALLER One of the most popular figures in early jazz history, with six songs reaching number one on the charts  He was an entertainer and singer as well as a pianist, often adding witty remarks as he played  He was perhaps the most gracefully swinging of all the stride-style pianists  His improvisations are rich and imaginative  Two of his best-known songs are “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose” 
  8. 8. A FEW FATS WALLER RECORDINGS “I Ain’t Got Nobody”  “Numb Fumblin’”  “Handful of Keys”  “Your Feet’s Too Big” *  “Lulu’s Back in Town” 
  9. 9. BOOGIE WOOGIE Boogie woogie was an alternative to stride style, popular with dancers in the 20s and 30s  In boogie woogie style, pianists improvised licks over a repeating boogie woogie rhythm  The three most well-known boogie woogie pianists are Albert Ammons, Meade “Lux” Lewis, and Pete Johnson   “Honky Tonky Train Blues”

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