This week’s song is neither a big band nor a small group recording, it’s performed by only one instrument, the piano.
James Edwards “Jimmy” Yancey (Feb. 20, 1894 – Sept. 17, 1951) was an afro-american pianist, singer and dancer. He is considered the pioneer of Boogie Woogie piano. Boogie Woogie was a typical element of uptempo Blues and early Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In the late 1930s, Boogie Woogie boomed but Yancey had started playing it already after 1915. Interestingly, Yancey didn’t begin recording before 1939.
Chris Kelsey on allmusic writes about his style:
“Yancey was not as technically flashy as some of his disciples, but he was an expressive, earthy player with a flexible left hand that introduced an air of unpredictability into his bass lines. His playing had a notable peculiarity: Although he wrote and performed compositions in a variety of keys, he ended every tune in E flat.”
Despite the fact, that he had quite an impact as musician, he never quit his day job as a groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, where he started to work in 1925.
On January 23, 1986, Jimmy Yancey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, largely based on his contributions to the development of Boogie Woogie as a style.
Five O’Clock Blues
This song is a great example for Yancey’s earthy style, as it is described earlier in this post. For my taste, it’s more a Blues than a Boogie Woogie tune, though.
As a Swing DJ, you have to well consider when it’s the right time to play such a song for a dance crowd!
Are you okay with dancing Lindy Hop to Boogie Woogie? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Song of the Week #40: “Piano Stomp (Shine)” by Lionel Hampton
Song of the Week #114: “Smiles” by Benny Goodman Quartet
Song of the Week #113: “Ridin’ And Jivin’” by Earl Hines
Song of the Week #112: “Ochi Chornya” by Wingy Manone
Song of the Week #111: “Town Hall Blues” by Bud Freeman