J. Glover Compton

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From the hollows of Kentucky comes a pianist who was actually known as one of the important musicians on the elite Louisville theatre scene, circa 1905. His wife was the vocalist Nettie Lewis, but at…
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From the hollows of Kentucky comes a pianist who was actually known as one of the important musicians on the elite Louisville theatre scene, circa 1905. His wife was the vocalist Nettie Lewis, but at least for a time a more frequent musical partner was Tony Jackson, the other half of a double piano team. Prior to settling in Chicago in 1910, Compton wandered a bit farther afield than many early jazzmen, including a gig in Wyoming that did not involve prospecting. He became known as one of the Windy City's best solo pianists, or at least openly coveted that notion by booking himself into the Elite Club for years.

This developed into something of a syndrome for this artist: go somewhere, stay a long time, move on and go back to the beginning. Fans of solo piano in San Francisco and Seattle also were able to enjoy Compton's as the '20s approached. In 1921 he was back in Chicago alongside Jimmie Noone and Ollie Powers. He also led J. Glover Compton and the Syncopaters. His next long residency was in Paris at the famed Bricktop venue beginning in 1926 and stretching until 1939, indeed Compton's longest stand.

At that time he took on a contract at one of the many New York jazz piano venues where audiences yabber over the music, perhaps ultimately motivating him into yet another return to Chicago and the resumption of his collaboration with Noone. Compton opened his own bar in the '50s, a logical move as bars began to be easier to afford than good pianos. He played actively until he had a stroke in 1957.