This 16-cut CD spotlights three great pianists who recorded for Blue Note in its infancy. Earl Hines was mainly heading big bands at this point, but cut a few tunes for the fledgling label in 1939, including the opening two numbers. Boogie-woogie stylist Pete Johnson takes center stage for five selections, three with guitarist Ulysses Livington and bassist Abe Bolar. On those cuts, Johnson is more restrained and careful than on the solo numbers. James P. Johnson, widely regarded as the father of stride piano, completes the disc with six brilliant pieces that include blistering rags played in much looser fashion than usual for that idiom, stomps, a marvelous version of Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues," and the entertaining "Improvisations On Pinetop's Boogie Woogie."
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AllMusic Review by Ron Wynn