rhythm piano and piano rolls
I promised a follow-up with more information. Thanks
for the positive responses. As I define "Rhythm Piano"
(I came up with the idea for the genre), the following
performers would fit into this category, and listening
to their solo piano output should make it evident to
the listener as to what exactly this genre is, as I
don't quite feel qualified to make a musicological
analysis at the moment.
Lil Hardin Armstrong
Frank Banta (on occasion, though he's mostly novelty)
James Blythe (great blues as well)
J. Milton Delcamp (on occasion, a jack-of-all-styles)
Clarence Johnson (ditto as for Blythe)
J. Russel Robinson (though he was a ragtimer too)
Cassino Simpson (at least earlier)
early Mary Lou Williams (Nite Life, etc.)
Garland Wilson (great stride, too)
(several others, but I can't think of them at the
a recording with some great performances in the style
is "Swingin' Piano" issued by Folkways and available
as a custom CD/cassette from
The recording which I made reference to in the earlier
post is "Musee Mecanique Vol. 1" which contains many
tunes played on the various automatic instruments in
the collection. This collection of various antique
coin-operated devices is now housed on Pier 45 in
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. It is an open
display and the public is free to walk through and
drop their money in, take pictures, etc.
The recording is available here:
The instrument in question is a later North Tonawanda
model "L" coin piano with mandolin and a rank of
violin pipes. It plays a regular "A" roll (NT also
made an earlier L that played a special L roll; only
one of these pianos exists). On the recording, the
piano is a bit out of tune with the pipes (or is it
the other way around?) but regardless, this is a small
price to pay for such great music!
The roll played by this instrument on this recording
and mentioned in the previous post is Capitol #A-1972,
which has been recut by Play-Rite (and probably
others) in the past. I have even seen one of these
recuts on Ebay a while ago.
Since Capitol coin piano rolls were generally made
from prior 88-note home player piano arrangements (put
out by the Columbia Music Roll corp. under various
brand names), it is often possible to find the
full-scale version of each tune as well as the
abbreviated version made to fit the shorter playing
range of the coin pianos and orchestrions.
using this list:
I was able to find the number of the 88-note version
(presumably the same one, but with all the notes
intact). It is Columbia roll #1364, made in 1919 and
played by Clarence Johnson. I am not sure whether the
88-note version has ever been recut but it ought to
be! This arrangement is mind-blowing!
The other two arrangements on the recording (and maybe
not all on the same roll, which may have a different
selection for the other 9 tunes) apparently also come
from Columbia 88-note rolls. They are #1348 "Spanish
Shawl" made in 1925 and played by James Blythe, and
#1286 "Take 'Em To the Door" (blues) made in 1925 and
played by Paul Jones.
Those of you with player pianos ought to seek out the
rolls, as they are really good; I myself own none of
the ones mentioned above (or even recuts :( ) but I'm
on the lookout!
Also, if anyone has a roll or a scan of "Society
Blues" by Jimmy Blythe, I would be interested in
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