Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Jimmy Yancey born 20 January 1894
James Edwards "Jimmy" Yancey (February 20, 1894 - September 17, 1951) was an African American pianist, composer, and lyricist, most noted for his piano work in the boogie-woogie style that eventually became a recognizable element of uptempo blues and early rock and roll.
Jimmy Yancey, the Father of boogie, was born in Chicago February 20th, (depending on the source) 1894, or 1898. His older brother Alonzo Yancey (born in 1894, in Chicago died in 1944, in Chicago) was a pianist as well; their father was a guitarist.
Yancey worked originally as a singing, dancing vaudevillian, while still a small child. He had just turned 20 after touring the USA and Europe, and then began teaching himself to play the piano.He played at rent parties and clubs in Chicago from 1915 and gradually built up a reputation. In fact, he is said to have given ideas to Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis—those two famous boogie pianists. Nevertheless, Jimmy Yancey felt that music was an uncertain way to make a living, so he became a groundsman with the Chicago White Sox baseball team in 1925.He did continue to play piano, though, and was one of the prime-movers in establishing boogie-woogie.
Yancey was a musician's musician, remaining mostly unknown and unheard outside of Chicago until 1936, when Meade Lux Lewis recorded one of his tunes, "Yancey Special." Three years later, producer Dan Qualey became the first to record Yancey for his new Solo Art label. After the Victor recordings, Yancey went on to record for OKeh and Bluebird.
While he played in a boogie-woogie style, with a strong-repeated figure in the left hand and melodic decoration in the right hand, his playing was delicate and subtle, rather than hard driving. He popularized a left hand figure which became known as the 'Yancey bass', and was later used in Pee Wee Crayton's "Blues After Hours", Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Know" and many other songs. Part of Yancey's distinctive style was that he played in a variety of keys but always ended every song in E flat. He was also an undistinguished blues singer, accompanying himself on piano.
Yancey made many records, most were of solo piano, but late in his career he also recorded with vocals by his wife, Estelle Yancey, under the billing 'Jimmy and Mama Yancey'. They recorded the first album ever made by Atlantic Records. He played clubs and concerts and notably at the Carnegie hall in 1948. Yancey died of a stroke secondary to diabetes in Chicago on September 17, 1951. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. (Info edited mainly from larryjazz.com & Wikipedia)