Albert Ammons, Hey! Piano Man: Selected Boogie Woogie Sides Remastered (Disc 4 : With JC Higginbotham)

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

This four-disc box contains everything you need to know about the rumbling left hands and rip-rolling rights of boogie woogie. The first three pianists were stylistically similar friends—they once lived in the same Chicago building, and in the late '30s worked together as the Boogie Woogie Trio. Lewis was most inventive; his seminal "Honky Tonk Train Blues" mimicked locomotive rhythms, while "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "Celeste Blues" are celeste showcases. From solos like "Let 'em Jump" to combo pieces like "Vine Street Hustle," Johnson played with power, while even the oft-derivative Ammons—whose signature "Boogie Woogie Stomp" is actually Pine Top Smith's "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie"—offered surprises like the proto-blues "Chicago in Mind." But with tracks like "State Street Special," Yancey was the real bluesman; though he was more deliberate and less manic, his understated style still swung madly.