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Late Night Piano: James P. Johnson

by Seth Colter Walls

Late Night Piano: James P. Johnson

About this playlist

Whether you're entertaining a group, cooking dinner or relaxing with a drink, what's better company than piano music in the after-work hours? We say nothing, so this week we're giving you the chance to unwind with a set of key solo sides and piano rolls by the influential stride pianist James P. Johnson, the man who literally made "Harlem Strut" in the 1920s.

Playlist opener "Riffs" drops, well, plenty of riffs. The stomp of "You've Got to Be Modernistic" and the subtleties within Johnson's "A Flat Dream" continue to inspire pianists to this day. Most of the tunes selected in our playlist are from Johnson's solo recordings, which are the best forum in which to hear him push around oompah rhythms. But we've sneaked in a couple piano rolls, too, if only because you deserve to hear Johnson's dancefloor smash "The Charleston" in the same way that early audiences did. (It can be found, first up, in the "Runnin' Wild Medley.") So "Keep Off the Grass," stay modernistic and click play. Come back next week for some more late night piano.

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