Reginald DuValle

b. c.1890, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, d. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. A popular ragtime pianist, DuValle rarely moved outside the city and hence is less well known than his talent deserves. He played…
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Artist Biography

b. c.1890, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, d. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. A popular ragtime pianist, DuValle rarely moved outside the city and hence is less well known than his talent deserves. He played piano both as a solo act and with dance bands. One of the bands in which he played was that led by trumpeter Russell Smith. Smith’s band was one of the best known of the black territory bands in the Midwest, and apart from DuValle it also included in its ranks Noble Sissle.

After Smith’s band broke up, DuValle continued his own career and in the late 20s led his own dance band, the DuValle Blackbirds. Jazz historian David Brett Johnson has reported that for a while DuValle had his own weekly radio show on WKBF. In Indianapolis DuValle encountered a young white pianist and hopeful songwriter, Hoagy Carmichael. In interviews and in his own writings, Carmichael acknowledged a debt to DuValle, declaring that the older man taught him aspects of improvisation and respect for his own intuition: ‘Never play anything that ain’t right. You may not make any money, but you’ll never get mad at yourself.’ When Dick Sudhalter was researching his Carmichael biography, Stardust Melody, he interviewed DuValle’s son, who described the pianist’s style as being deeply rooted in ragtime but with elements of stride and an awareness of musical developments.