12 Jazz Piano Firsts

1899 Scott Joplin writes “Maple Leaf Rag,” which becomes the first huge hit of the ragtime era. In those days, “hit” meant sheet music sales. 1917 At age 18, Duke Ellington forms his first band in Washington, DC. Ten years
Author:
Publish date:

1899

scottjcov
scottjoplin

Scott Joplin writes “Maple Leaf Rag,” which becomes the first huge hit of the ragtime era. In those days, “hit” meant sheet music sales.

1917

At age 18, Duke Ellington forms his first band in Washington, DC. Ten years later, he opens at the Cotton Club in New York City.

duke

1926

Earl Hines invites Louis Armstrong to join his band at the Sunset Club in Chicago. Hines’s fluid style frees jazz piano from the boom-chuck left hand of ragtime and stride.

Earl Hines

1933

Art Tatum steals the show at a contest at Morgan’s Bar in New York City, besting rival stride pianists James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and Willie “the Lion” Smith.

arttatum

1933

Teddy Wilson joins the Benny Goodman Trio, becoming the first African- American musician to appear with a previously all-white group. In the next few years, Wilson plays behind Billie Holiday.

teddy_wilson

 1938

ammons
johnson
meadeluxlewis

John Hammond produces the “From Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall, which kicks off a decade-long boogie- woogie craze headlined by Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis. (Above left, above right, and immediate left, respectively.)

1940

George Shearing first appears, as a sideman with French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.

shearing

1944

Thelonious Monk makes his first recordings, with the Coleman Hawkins Quartet. His first recordings as a leader follow in 1947.

monk

1949

Impresario Norman Granz introduces Oscar Peterson to U.S. audiences at Carnegie Hall.

Oscar

1954

On Nov. 8, Dave Brubeck is the first jazz pianist to appear on the cover of Time magazine. He is followed ten years later by Thelonious Monk.

brubeck

1958

Bill Evans joins the Miles Davis Sextet. His influential trio recordings with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian follow three years later, in 1961.

bill_evans

1971

Already a veteran of Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett releases Facing You, which inspires a decades-long revival of jazz and new age solo piano.

jarrett