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James P. Johnson

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



The Musical Biography of James P. Johnson: His Life, Legacy, and Songs That Defined an Era

When it comes to the roots and origins of jazz music, one name that often comes up is James P. Johnson. Being the father of stride piano, his musical legacy is a vital part of the evolution of jazz music. He was a prolific composer, pianist, and arranger who pushed the boundaries of the musical genre. His influence on music is something that can still be seen and felt today, even as we celebrate the centenary of his most famous songs. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the life, legacy, and songs of James P. Johnson.

Early Life and Beginnings

Fondly known as 'Jimmy' by his friends and family, Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1894. At the tender age of nine, he began to play the piano, taking music lessons from his mother. Later on, he moved to New York City and became famous in the Harlem Renaissance era for his amazing ability to play jazz music on the piano.

Career Highlights

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Johnson went on to record some of his most famous musical pieces, with most of them being improvised. One such composition was Charleston. It was a swing-infused piano ragtime that became a hit among the young crowds of New York City. In the 1940s, he scored a huge success with 'Yamekraw,' a symphony that was inspired by the people and sounds of Charleston.

Musical Style and Influences

As someone who honed his skills in Harlem, New York, Johnson's music style combined elements of classical music, ragtime, and church hymns to create a unique blend of jazz music. He was also heavily influenced by the Carnegie Hall performances of classical pianist Franz Liszt, which Johnson attended as a young man.



Although he may have been overshadowed by other jazz figures of his time, Johnson's influence on jazz music is undeniable. His music laid the foundation for future jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. He also played a vital role in popularizing jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.

James P. Johnson was a pioneer of jazz music, whose contributions continue to influence the music genre today. As we look back at his life, music, and legacy, we can see the impact he has had on jazz music's evolution. Despite facing much discrimination and roadblocks, he pressed on with his passion for music, believing in the power of jazz to bring people together. It's safe to say that Johnson's music will continue to inspire future generations of jazz musicians, and we can't wait to see where it goes from here.
Tag: James P. Johnson, musical biography, best songs, playlist
1 - Unknown Blues (by Fletcher Henderson)
2 - Keep Off the Grass
3 - You've Got to Be Modernistic
4 - Honeysuckle Rose
5 - Riffs
6 - Carolina Shout
7 - Snowy Morning Blues
8 - Jingles
9 - Liza
10 - Old Fashioned Love
11 - Fascination
12 - Sugar
13 - Roumania
14 - Innovation
15 - Charleston
16 - If I Could Be With You (one Hour Tonight)
17 - Twilight Rag
18 - Crying For The Carolines
19 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
20 - The Harlem Strut
21 - Mule Walk (stomp)
22 - What Is This Thing Called Love?
23 - Steeplechase Rag
24 - Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
25 - Daintiness Rag
26 - A Porter's Love Song
27 - Sweet Lorraine
28 - Jungle Drums