JIM YANCEY has been a grounds-keeper for the Chicago White Sox Baseball Team at Comiskey Park, Chicago - for 23 years. As a pianist he rates high in the history of boogie-woogie. But during his prime this music was not appreciated and he had to seek employment as a laborer and forego his keyboard vocation. That is the amazing story of boogie-woogie. It was practically a lost art, but fortunately in the past five years, the public has accepted it due to the efforts of many swing critics and musicians.
Jim Yancey's story is typical of the old time pianist. Around 1915 he worked as a soloist at house parties and peakeasies. Since this type of work was neither steady nor lucrative, Yancey drifted away from the piano until he found a steady job with the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. While Yancey was still playing piano, he taught a few youngsters some of his tricks.
These boys were Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons, who many years later helped revive the interest in boogie-woogie. As a matter of fact, Meade's "Yancey Special" was dedicated to his old tutor and contains many of the typical Yancey phrases. It was thru this number that Yancey was brought back into the spotlight.
When the story about Yancey became known, Dan Qualey, a young man who specialized in recording pianists, went to Chicago to record him. Much credit should be given to Qualey for Yancey's come-back, because the hands of the old master were not as supple as they used to be and Qualey actually nursed him back into form. After twenty years of being away from the ivories, there was something left to be desired in his performance. However, historical value alone was so important that these discs are world famous. Later on, Lester Melrose recorded him for the Victor Company and for Vocalion.
These songs are a collection of his most famous compositions. It is an authentic compilation of the exact way Yancey plays. It shows the definite beginning of the boogie-woogie style and will remain a permanent musical tribute to his talent.