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Butch Thompson: Lincoln Avenue Express

One thing I have never understood is why there aren’t more people doing what Butch Thompson is doing, playing ragtime, boogie and stride piano. I realize that it’s not very easy, but it’s also hard to play ragtime on the guitar and there are certainly people around doing that. Stride piano is a great American tradition in need of practitioners, even if their recordings are unlikely to ever attain the heights achieved by the masters (guitarists at least don’t have to worry about such comparisons.)

Thompson mixes obscure titles like Jelly Roll Morton’s “Big Lip Blues” with familiar one, including several by W. C. Handy. I especially like his piano adaptations of two songs associated with Bessie Smith. His brittle touch at times evokes the Jelly Lord and his love for and commitment to this music are apparent in his playing and arranging.

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