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Upbeat Piano

June 2024
1min read

Fascinatin’ Rhythm
American Syncopation

Alan Feinberg, piano, Argo 444 457-2 (one CD) .

In his notes to this rousing collection of piano pieces that are all unalloyedly American in their play with lively rhythm, the pianist Alan Feinberg writes, “Whereas race, sex and class sharply divided society earlier in the century, in the music world there was a warm interest and lively discourse between the different styles of musical endeavor. James P. Johnson was friends with Gershwin and Godowsky. Horowitz and Tatum compared their ‘Tea for Two’ arrangements.” He demonstrates the energy let loose when pop and classical collided—one of the many cultural collisions that make American music so rich and varied—by juxtaposing on the disc works by, among others, Gershwin, Fats Waller, Henry Cowell, Scott Joplin, Percy Grainger, Bud Powell, Duke Ellington, Conlon Nancarrow, and Jelly Roll Morton. He shows Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the nineteenth-century American Liszt, to have been the grandfather of stride piano, and Bix Beiderbecke to have been inspired by Ravel. Best of all, he gives us a broad catalogue of great American rhythm played with perfect dash and verve.

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