Reissued with additional tracks and annotations in 1996 as Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 40812.
When James P. Johnson made these solo recordings for Moe Asch's Folkways label, Asch gave him the freedom to record what he wished. The pianist took the opportunity to document some pre-jazz piano music, a few favorite tunes, some improvised blues, and piano reductions of his own unperformed concert works. It's a remarkable release, including among the early piano music Jesse Pickett's "The Dream," Scott Joplin's "Euphonic Sounds," and two blues by W.C. Handy. While Johnson's ambitions to mount an indigenous concert music, one melding jazz and ragtime rhythms with classical forms, were frustrated, you'd never know it from these vibrant performances of "Yamekraw--A Negro Rhapsody," "Jazzamine Concerto," and a fragment from "Jungle Drums." The 1996 CD issue includes eight previously unissued tracks. --Stuart Broomer --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.