It is not until the final paragraph of the liner notes of this CD that it is mentioned that the set of James P. Johnson solo performances are piano rolls rather than recordings; nowhere does it state that important fact on the outside cover. The most interesting aspect of the reissue is that the great pianist did not otherwise record the majority of the numbers, including his famous "Charleston" (although a longer piano roll version has been released elsewhere). As is true of all piano rolls, the rhythms are a bit mechanical, and some of the playing might have been "enhanced" by additional punching of holes. But in general, these performances do indeed sound like the father of stride piano, even if the CD is less essential than James P.'s actual recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow