The early days of jazz spawned great women jazz pianists — Sweet Emma Barrett, Billie Pierce, Jeanette Kimball, Mary Lou Williams, and Lovie Austin among them. These women were so talented some eventually became band leaders, and these ground-breaking women made some significant contributions to Jazz. Here are some:
Sweet Emma Barrett
She played with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, sometimes one-handed after a stroke. Here she is being interviewed by Art Duke and performing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Another member of the renown Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Here she is performing with her husband Dede. I appreciate the enhanced audio (by Konrad Klingelfus) on this track.
Jeanette Kimball was classically trained and played in “society bands” with Papa Celestin. Here’s an example:
She finally got to record on her own, and you can hear her piano chops:
Mary Lou Williams
This self-taught musician started her career at age seven in Pittsburgh as “the little piano girl of East Liberty.” She wrote, arranged and performed with the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. I chose this song that featured her piano playing.
Born in Tennessee, she established her musical career in Chicago, and Mary Lou Williams credits her as a major influence. I selected this song featuring Lovie’s piano playing with Ida Cox singing.
Let’s get ready for the next baseball season with Ed Meeker’s version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” This classic recording of a hundred-year-old song extolling the virtues of America’s pastime is a must-listen.
Mr. Meeker was an Engineer at Edison Records when he was asked to record this version of a song written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer. Ironically neither of these gentlemen had ever been to a baseball game before writing this classic song. We have enhanced the sound quality of the original wax cylinder digitally with Michael Rosen’s assistance.
What an inspired performance! I found this original performance of this classic at publicdomainreview.org. The former song-plugger turned composer wrote this song in 1924, and it still resonates today. I especially enjoy this version, and am very glad to share it with you.
A real music pioneer, Paul Whiteman added orchestral instrumentation to the jazz of the day and recorded “Do Wacka Do” over 90 years ago. We mastered the original for streaming, and cleaned up this masterpiece of fun and joy. I can picture a truly great cartoon of the singer and band in my mind just listening to this song.
Covered by many, yet understood by few, “Midnight Special” was traditionally a folk song which originated among prisoners. The country-blues version, sung by Bill Cox, hums along like a freight train, encouraging the light of the powerful locomotive to inspire those out of their destitution.