Piano Can Be a Great Source of Inspiration for Fiddlers

Tapping into Texas boogie by way of New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John

Boogie-woogie, and other similar styles of New Orleans–based piano music, is a style that I love. It was a musical craze that swept the nation at one time. In fact, the first Blue Note Records jazz release featured Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons playing four-hands boogie-woogie piano. Even Stuff Smith, the great jazz violinist, co-wrote a collection of boogie-woogie tunes published by M.M. Cole in 1944 as the Stuff Smith Boogie Woogie songbook.?

Still on the surface, it may seem strange that a violinist is studying boogie-woogie piano. Most of the music I love to listen to and perform was not developed or played by a violinist, so in order to play the music I love, I need to learn the vocabulary from the musicians and the instruments that spawned the original style. I learn the music by playing it on the keyboard and then transferring the essence of it to the violin.

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*This article appeared in Strings December 2010
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