Johnson, James P(rice)
- Willa Rouder
(b New Brunswick, NJ, Feb 1, 1894; d New York, Nov 17, 1955). American jazz and musical theatre pianist and composer. He first learnt music from his mother, singing songs at the piano. In 1908 the family settled in New York, where Johnson took lessons with Bruto Giannini, and also learnt from such contemporary ragtime pianists as Eubie Blake. By 1913 he had begun to work at clubs in the black section of Hell's Kitchen in New York known as ‘The Jungles’, where labourers from the South danced most of the night to the accompaniment of solo piano. It was in these dance halls that Johnson developed many of the rhythmically driving shout pieces for which he later became famous. In 1917 he published the first of some 200 songs and recorded his earliest piano rolls.
Johnson recorded a series of inspired solo performances in the 1920s of his own compositions, beginning with ...