Stride pianist James Johnson
was also one of the greatest composers of the era.
Piano rolls and piano solos that he composed in a variety of idioms include:
Steeplechase Rag (roll of may 1917), the archetype of his dramatic playing, originally published in 1912,
Daintiness Rag (record of july 1917), first published in 1914,
Mama's Blues (july 1917),
Carolina Shout (february 1918), one of his signature rags, composed in 1914,
Keep Off The Grass (october 1921),
Harlem Strut (june 1922),
Weeping Blues (june 1923),
Worried And Lonesome Blues (june 1923),
You Can't Do What My Last Man Did (july 1923),
Charleston, a piano tune originally composed in 1913 that became the anthem of the decade after being turned into a pop tune in the Broadway show Runnin' Wild (october 1923),
Snowy Morning Blues (february 1927),
If I Could Be With You (march 1927), a duet with Waller,
Feeling Blue (january 1929),
the acrobatic Riffs (january 1929).
The hits came later:
Liza (april 1937),
The Mule Walk (december 1938),
Blueberry Rhyme (june 1939).
His most popular song was
Old Fashioned Love (composed by Johnson in 1913 and recorded by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards in november 1923).
But he also tried his hand at classical composition:
the four-movement "negro rhapsody" Yamecraw (1928), a Tone Poem (1930), the Harlem Symphony (1932),
the piano concerto Jassamine (1934),
and the opera De Organizer (1940).
Johnson died in 1955.
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