Being a full time entertainer (vocalist, comedian, voiceover artist to band leader) I often accompany my vocals by playing the piano in a stride, swing, boogie woogie, or jump blues fashion.
Stride is a style of jazz piano playing that was developed in Harlem during the 1920s, descending from among other styles, march music played by African American bands. Jazz and Blues has it’s origins in the deep south. evolving out of the African-American communities, from their work songs, spirituals and field chants. By the twenties, due to the popularity of blues singers like Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, T-Bone Walker, the 12 bar blues, Texas blues, and sub-genres like “jumpin’ blues” blossomed. The 1930s – 1940s also spawned the swing era which then set the stage for the emergence of Rock n’ Roll in America, whch has always been my biggest souce of inspiration musically.
All of this music was essentially born out of the immense creativity and passion of African-Americans during a time of great strife, turmoil and prejudice. Still, with all of that struggle, all the hurdles, they perseverered. What prevailed and what remains, will forever be a part of our rich musical history and will always be something that brings people together. An international language, which even in the form of Rock N’ Roll, more times than not, carries the message of love. We have only the bravest of pioneers to thank for this. Pioneers like Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton to blues artists like Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, T-Bone Walker, to New Orleans Jazz bands like King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band & Louis Armstrong, to the Harlem based Big Bands like Chick Web, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, to vocalists like Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, to the Rhythm & Blues, Jump Blues styles of Big Joe Turner and Amos Milburn, and the Roots Rock n Roll artists like Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, and so many more, they are never to be forgotten. These were the trailblazers that sacrificed greatly so we could have the music that we cherish today.