Monday, January 12, 2009

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra & Marcus Roberts Trio Perform James P. Johnson's 'Yamekraw'

[Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994)]

Monday, January 12, 2009
Join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for its third annual 'Tribute' concert- a symphonic celebration of African American culture. This celebratory performance showcases a fusion of musical styles from the orchestral, jazz, gospel, and spiritual music traditions that reflect the diversity of American music. Hear the PSO with jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his Trio perform James P. Johnson's 'Yamekraw,'"as well as George Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue as you've never heard it before - with a jazz trio twist! This special performance also features the amazing sounds of the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Massed Choir performing an arrangement of Richard Smallwood's 'Bless the Lord' and the anthem 'Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing.' Arrive early at 7pm and stay after the concert to experience the Hill House Association's 'Live at the Hurricane,' a jazz combo performance accompanied by projected images by Pittsburgh photographer Teenie Harris in the Heinz Hall lobby. Posted by Verticus Erectus”

James Price Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on February 1, 1894. His biography is James P. Johnson: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Scott E. Brown. Brown also wrote the liner notes for the CD Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson, Music Masters 67140 (1994). The biographer writes that Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody was the first work to bring to life Johnson's dream of being a serious composer: “The foreword to 'Yamekraw' describes the intent of the work as 'A genuine Negro treatise on spiritual, syncopated and “blue” melodies by James P. Johnson, expressing the religious fervor and happy moods of the natives of Yamekraw, a Negro settlement situated on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia.” James Price Johnson died in New York City on Nov. 17, 1955 after suffering his eighth stroke at home.   Johnson is profiled at

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