Blues piano has a long history and wide stylistic differences. The practitioners presented here by Rounder Records take a swath across time and space to give you a fine collection of old-timers and newcomers working through boogie, barrelhouse, rag, and urban differences in their deliveries and compositions. These unaccompanied recordings give you the man and piano in collectable renditions with technologically superb digital remastering.
Thanks in part to the luridly alluring title and the enthusiastically informative liner notes by Bob Koester, this solid collection was many a young musician's introduction to the men who pioneered blues piano in the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt Sykes is the best represented artist here, and his leering vocals are hard to resist: After hearing the ribald metaphor of "Dresser Drawers," you'll never view furniture quite the same way again.
While most Mosaic limited-edition boxed sets concentrate on recordings by an individual bandleader or a single record label, Boogie Woogie and Blues Piano features sessions by a number of different artists from several labels active in the 1930s and early '40s, when boogie-woogie was very popular. Fifteen different pianists are featured (if one counts Lionel Hampton playing two fingered-duo piano in a band setting), though it is the giants of the genre, Meade "Lux" Lewis, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Jimmy Yancey who are given the most exposure.
Chuck Leavell pays homage to the early pioneers of blues piano including Leroy Carr, Little Brothers Montgomery. Otis Spann, Ray Charles and others. Guest appearances by Keith Richards, John Mayer, Danny Barnes and more. Notes by Chuck and blues historian Larry Cohn.