|Boogie Woogie, or "barrelhouse" is a blues-based piano style in which the right hand plays an accompaniment figure that resembles a strummed rhythm, such as is typically played on the guitar or banjo in rural blues dances. This could be expressed as a walking octave, an open-fifth pounded out with a blue third thrown in, or even a simple figure such as falling triad (as in the work of Jimmy Yancey); the approach varies to the pianist.
Elements of boogie-woogie can be found prior to 1910 in piano works by such disparate figures such as Blind Boone, Luckey Roberts and the classical composer Charles Ives. The earliest recorded examples of boogie woogie are found on piano rolls made in 1922 by Cow Cow Davenport, and by the end of the 1920s dozens of boogie woogie pianists had recorded ranging geographically from Texas to Chicago. Boogie-woogie practically disappeared from records during the depression. However, it returned with a vengeance in the late '30s, popularized by a smart Deane Kincaide arrangement for Tommy Dorsey’s band of the 1929 composition "Boogie Woogie" written by Clarence "Pine Top" Smith, a Chicago pianist who is also credited with coining the term. Boogie-woogie enjoyed its heyday in the early '40s, and as a result, one-time Chicago barrelhouse pianists such as Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and Pete Johnson found themselves feted as celebrities in New York’s exclusive café society circles. After the Second World War interest in the style subsided, but elements of the sound were absorbed into the playing of early rock & roll artists such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. It also remains an important component to New Orleans pop music, as in the work of Professor Longhair and Dr. John. Among living pianists working in nightclubs and cocktail bars, it can be said that boogie-woogie has never truly lost its popularity even today.
|African-American music, Blues, Ragtime|
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