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  • Victory Stride:Symphonic Music of Jam
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Victory Stride:Symphonic Music of Jam

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Audio CD, May 10, 1994
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 10, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Music Masters/Sbme
  • ASIN: B000000FS8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,047 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Victory Stride
2. Harlem Sym: Subway Journey
3. Harlem Sym: April In Harlem
4. Harlem Sym: Night Club
5. Harlem Sym: Baptist Mission
6. Con Jazz in a: Mvt. I: Allegro
7. Con Jazz in a: Mvt.II: Adagio
8. American Sym Ste: Lament
9. American Sym Ste: Drums - A Symphonic Poem
10. American Sym Ste: Charleston

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Tutt on November 13, 2001
Format: Audio CD
James P. Johnson is one of the most important and yet least recognised African - American musicians if the 20th century. The leading figure in the Harlem "stride" jazz piano style, he taught Fats Waller and strongly influenced Duke Ellington Count Basie and Thelonious Monk. He composed a series of Broadway hits, including the "Charleston", the song which more than any other epitomised the 1920s. He was the favourite accompanist of leading popular singers Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters, and a prolific recorder of piano rolls. What is less well known is that he also sought (like Scott Joplin) to produce "serious" orchestral music using African American themes and rhythms. A number of these works were performed in his lifetime but were then forgotten, and until the 1980s were considered lost. Researchers then interviewed members of the Johnson family and discovered that they still had manuscripts of a number of these "lost" works. Some of these works are featured on this CD.
Probably the best work is "Drums: A Symphonic Poem", an effectively orchestrated and rhythmically powerful piece with a sense of accumulating tension not dissimilar in concept to Ravel's "Bolero". The two extant movements of Johnson's 1934 "Concerto Jazz-A-Mine" are given a good performance. The first movement features a number of piano tricks drawn from Johnson's jazz repertoire, whilst the second movement highlights his gift for romantic melody. The "Harlem Symphony" is a programmatic suite, each of its four movements representing a particular facet of 1930s Harlem. The first movement, "Subway Journey", is intended to show a variety of communities within New York.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jonas Muller on September 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
For anyone interested in music attempting to combine classical music with black American vernacular music, also often referred to as "Third Stream", a term coined by Gunther Schuller, this CD is an absolute must-have. Victory Stride is a CD containing recordings of American stride-pianist James P. Johnson's rare and little known "symphonic" music. Johnson, mostly known as a stride-pianist and composer of show tunes, wrote symphonies, piano concertos, and an opera, written in European classical style but heavily flavoured with many forms of black American music, similar to what George Gershwin, Aaron Copland and Darius Milhaud were experimenting with at the time.

The problem with much of Johnson's symphonic music is that its black music influences are so heavy at times, that it really requires a musician familiar with both classical and blues and jazz sensitivities, usually a rare find. The opening number on the CD, the title number Victory Stride, is a clear example of this problem. The piece is a hard driving big-band-like swing tune but is here performed by classically trained musicians, who, with their lack of feeling and swing, completely misrepresent the tune. Similarly, the piano concerto Concerto Jazzamine, originally premiered with Johnson's stride colleague Fats Waller as the soloist, evidently requires a soloist steeped in both traditions, as was Johnson and Waller. However, Leslie Stifleman, the soloist on the recording makes a noble effort but the piece loses a bit of its strength with her stiffness and lack of rhythmic feel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on May 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I found this item in a bargain bin recently and took a chance on it because I had heard OF James P. Johnson, but nothing BY him. Well, this does not have his own jazz piano playing from the 1920's on it---there are other available CD's with those recordings. Instead, we get the serious music Mr. Johnson composed after he retired from jazz and musical revues...the stuff a black man could not get played by the large symphony orchestras of the '30's and '40's, whose audiences were overwhelmingly white. On this release, you'll find about 50 minutes of wonderful symphonic composition. I was interested all the way through and will need to hear it again to fully appreciate the art of it. As I write this, there are only two other reviews published on this item, and each contributor is more knowledgeable than I am about music in general and Johnson in particular. I urge you to read those critiques. I would tell you that if you are interested in Johnson himself or in music by African-Americans in general, you need to find a copy of "Victory Stride." The Concordia Orchestra is a NYC-based group, and the members should be proud of having made these long-neglected works available for the 21st century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carl Jorgensen on February 25, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I have not studied music formally. I do not know why this music for jazz and classical orchestra instruments is "classical music" and not popular music. I do find it interesting, exciting and every inventive music. Johnson keeps writing interesting variations on his melodies. No repeating the same line over and over. Some of the melodic developments are wonderful.
If the White audiences of Johnson's day had the respect for Black people and culture that White Americans have had from 1965 on, Johnson's orchestral writings would have received great acclaim. He would have continued writing orchestral music and ended up being compared to Ellington and Gershwin. I am not saying he would have become as good as Ellington and Gershwin, but his music would have been in their ballpark.
Thanks to Marin Alsop for locating and recording this music. Be grateful that we now have musicians who can play classical music and jazz.
This is an important album for any student of American musical history to listen to and wonder what could have been if only America had not been so racist and the classical and jazz traditions so separate when this music was written. It is also very enjoyable in and of itself.
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