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Mosaic Is Releasing A James P. Johnson Set

The set will chronicle Johnson's career on record from the early years of the Harlem Renaissance to the World War II era.

Photo of pianist James P. Johnson

Photo: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

In the key of JPJ: James P. Johnson at the piano.

Take this news in stride: Mosaic Records is releasing a 6-CD set of piano master James P. Johnson, whose compositions and formidable role in the stylistic evolution of early jazz piano make him an important figure in 20th-century jazz history.

The set, comprised of all Sony-owned material on labels such as Okeh, Columbia, Bluebird, Victor, Signature, and Vocalion, will include Johnson piano solos, sideman sessions, and dates with blues singers recorded between 1921 and 1943. Bessie Smith, Lavina Turner, Ethel Waters, Clarence Williams, and Ida Cox are among the vocalists featured in the set, which also finds Johnson in the company of instrumentalists Frankie Newton, King Oliver, and Lonnie Johnson.

Mosaic is planning for the set to be available by the end of the year, and possibly as soon as November. Their forthcoming Lester Young set is still on track for release early next year.

  • Mark Borowsky

    Sony owns the Signature masters, of which they have released only the piano solos in this collection. The Signature band sides, done with Yank Lawson ( some were later issued on Brunswick ), also contain some of the best James P material from the second half of his career. Sadly, these are missing from the current project. Write to Scott Wenzel at Mosaic, people !

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