By the early 1920's James P. Johnson was
master of Harlem stride piano. Fats Waller, his friend and pupil, was the most
famous - more so for his 300 pound frame and grin than his awesome technique and
musicianship. These east coast pianists created a unique style - they felt they
were the best, and were putting the world on notice.
Stride was not so much a series of polished compositions (like Joplin rags).
Stride was a performance style - a frame work within which the pianist could
improvise (change the piece along the way in performance). Few stride pieces
The stride style adapted itself quite easily to popular tunes of the day. What
the musician did with the tune in performance was of the highest importance. The
stride masters also wrote pop tunes. James P.