Clarence “PINE TOP” SMITH came from nowhere after being raised in Alabama and teaching himself how to play some of the most influential piano to emerge in the early 20th century. Taking a cue from Scott Joplin ragtime he was one of the earliest players to create the boogie woogie style. He spent his youth performing at house parties and eventually played with Ma Rainey as well as Butterbeans & Susie. He relocated to Chicago in 1928 and only managed to record 11 tracks in his short life before passing on at the tender age of 25 from a gunshot wound in a dance-hall fight. He is a bit of mystery as no known photographs of PINE TOP are known to exist but his legacy lives on as one of the most influential players in the nascent jazz scene of the 1920s. This album came out in 1943 and is really just a mere sampling of the few recordings that exist.
“Pinetop's Boogie Woogie” is his most famous composition which incorporates a gallant galloping of the finger breaking antics driven by a fast tempo and is the track that made PINETOP famous. It incorporates the rhythmic breaks that were the backbone of the whole ragtime sound. Totally outstanding playing that must have turned some heads during the day.
“Pinetop's Blues” is a more typical mid tempo bluesy piano rag with vocals that lament about the woes of love and abuse in the attempt to woo a woman
“Jump Steady Blues” is a dialogue between PINE TOP and the bartender lamenting about not making money like other piano players. Boogie woogie bass line with freestyle improvised upper register in a blues style
“I'm Sober Now” is another mid tempo bluesy rag with a spoken narrative dialogue between two characters debating about if the music is too sentimental and that it should be more blues and Pinetop declares that he doesn't play the blues any more since he is sober now
Hard to judge this as an album since it's really just a collection released posthumously but every song is really a classic and the influential factor alone means this deserves a 5 star rating. Boogie woogie is an extremely addictive style as well being the perfect gateway drug for anyone interested in a deeper appreciation for the huge wealth of jazz music that follows.