James P. Johnson

Carolina Shout [ASV/Living Era]

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AllMusic Review by

Sometimes the Living Era label sews together a compilation that serves as the perfect tribute to a great artist. This is certainly the case with Carolina Shout, a portrait of composer, bandleader, and primal jazz pianist James P. Johnson. In addition to nine of his finest solo piano recordings, there are duets with Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Clarence Williams, and drummer Eddie Dougherty; a trio date with clarinetist Omer Simeon and bassist Pops Foster; and a pair of ensemble sessions led by clarinetists Edmond Hall and Pee Wee Russell. Four different bands led by Johnson are featured here: a funky little group from 1928 starring Cootie Williams and Fats Waller; a marvelous septet assembled in 1939 with a front line of Henry "Red" Allen, J.C. Higginbotham, and Eugene Sedric; one of Johnson's Blue Note Jazzmen bands with Sidney DeParis, Vic Dickenson, Ben Webster, and Big Sid Catlett; and Johnson's 1944 "New York Orchestra" with Frankie Newton and Al Casey, gently navigating the strains of a slow drag entitled "The Dream." This album closes with an uncommon all-star ramble through Johnson's famous "Charleston" and a lovely interpretation of Kurt Weill's "September Song" rendered by Sidney Bechet & His Seven. Recorded in 1949, this comes from one of the very last recording sessions that James P. Johnson ever participated in.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:36
2 2:35
feat: Bessie Smith
4 2:42
5 2:44
feat: Ethel Waters
7 3:05
8 3:15
9 3:21
10 2:43
11 2:29
12 3:05
13 3:20
14 4:16
15 3:17
16 4:27
17 2:32
18 3:57
19 2:45
20 2:46
21 2:38
22 2:50
23 2:50
24 4:01
25 2:58
blue highlight denotes track pick