James Price Johnson

JAMES PRICE JOHNSON was an American pianist and composer. A pioneer of stride piano, he was one of the most important pianists in the early era of recording and like Jelly Roll Morton, one of the key figures in the evolution of ragtime into what was eventually called jazz.

Before 1920 Johnson had gained a reputation as a pianist on the East coast on par with Eubie Blake and Luckey Roberts. Johnson made dozens of player piano roll recordings initially documenting his own ragtime compositions before recording for Aeolian, Perfection, Artempo, Rythmodik, and QRS during the period from 1917 to 1927.

Johnson composed many hit songs, including the unofficial anthem of the Roaring Twenties, "The Charleston," and he remained the acknowledged king of New York jazz pianists through most of the 1930s. Johnson's artistry, influence on early popular music, and contributions to musical theatre are often overlooked, and as such, he has been referred to by musicologist David Schiff as "The Invisible Pianist".


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