Jazz  •  New Orleans/Classic Jazz


Stride is a style of jazz piano playing in which the pianist's left hand maintains a continuous pulse in groups of four beats by percussively playing a bass note on the first and third beats and a chord on the second and fourth beats. The right hand improvises melodies and harmonies, and the result resembles a very energetic one-man band. It was performed by immensely talented pianists who were able to control the piano with a power and virtuosic force previously unknown in popular music. The style originated in New York before the 1920s, as pianists took ragtime and began developing new, more swinging styles. Major proponents were James P. Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and Luckey Roberts. They influenced Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Joe Sullivan -- who, in turn, went on to be influential themselves. Art Tatum and Ralph Sutton, for instance, were both influenced by Waller.