Influntial African American Pianists

Timeline created by aamusicphs
In Music
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    Scott Joplin

    Scott Joplin (c. 1867 – April 1, 1917) was an American composer and pianist. He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions, and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime." During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.
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    James Johnson

    *This date marks the birth of James Price Johnson in 1894. He was a highly influential African-American jazz pianist, who also wrote popular songs and composed classical works. A founder of the stride piano style, he was an important figure in the transition from ragtime to jazz. Born in New Brunswick N.J. Johnson studied classical and ragtime piano techniques, and by his late teens he was performing in saloons, dance halls, and at parties in the Black community on Manhattan's West Side, near H
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    Lil Hardin Armstrong

    2nd wife of Louis Armstrong, genres: jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, and bandleader; most influential recordings came in the 1920’s with Louis.
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    Duke Ellington

    Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was a composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of the Boston Globe "In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington."
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    William "Count" Basie

    was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years. Count Basie introduced several generations of listeners to the Big Band sound and left an influential catalog. Basie is remembered by many who worked for him as being considerate of musicians and their opinions, modest, relaxed, fun-loving, dryly witty, and always enthusiastic about his music.
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    Fats Waller

    Fats Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943), born Thomas Wright Waller, was a jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer. He was the youngest of four children born to Adaline Locket Waller, wife of the Reverend Edward Martin Waller.
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    Robert Shaw

    was an American blues and boogie-woogie pianist, best known for his 1963 album, The Ma Grinder.
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    Art Tatum

    Arthur "Art" Tatum, Jr. (October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956) was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso. He was nearly blind.
    Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time.Critic Scott Yanow wrote, "Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries ... Art Tatum's recordings still have the ability to scare modern pianists."
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    Buster Pickens

    was an American blues pianist.
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    Tadd Dameron

    was an American jazz composer, arranger and pianist. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon called Dameron the "romanticist" of the bop movement, while reviewer Scott Yanow writes that Dameron was the "definitive arranger/composer of the bop era".
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    Thelonius Monk

    was an American jazz pianist and composer considered "one of the giants of American music". Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy", "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser" and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.
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    Cecil Taylor

    is an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as one of the pioneers of free jazz.
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    Ray Charles

    Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), better known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.
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    Little Richard

    is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s.
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    Stevie Wonder

    is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist. Blind since shortly after birth, Wonder signed with Motown Records' Tamla label at the age of eleven,and continues to perform and record for Motown to this day.