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Albert Ammons/Meade Lux Lewis/Pete Johnson: The Boogie Woogie Trio, Volume 2

There are 23 performances by the boogie men on the first CD, all from broadcasts out of the Sherman Hotel, Chicago, during September-October, 1939. There are eight solos by Ammons, six each by Johnson and Lewis, a duet by Ammons and Lewis and two romps by the trio. All titles are originals by the pianists, except for three (including “St. Louis Blues”) that Ammons tackles, and two of Lewis’ solos have not been issued before. By 1939, boogie-woogie had become something of a national fad, spurred on by the threesome’s success in the Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. John Hammond’s part in virtually introducing this music to a huge public was a boon to mankind of which he could justly be proud, much of it due to his own earlier discovery of Meade Lux Lewis’ record of “Honky Tonk Train Blues.”

Once you’re accustomed to this idiom, you should find appealing differences in the three pianists. Ammons was born in 1907, Lewis in 1905, and Johnson the same year as Pinetop Smith, in 1904. Their great precursor, Jimmy Yancey, was born in 1894 and his influence is probably more evident in Lewis’ slower pieces. Boogie-woogie was blues for dancing and in 1939 the popularity of Swing would have accounted for some of the hard-swinging tempos.

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