Archive for James P. Johnson

Backwater Blues

Posted in History, Jazz with tags , , , , on January 5, 2012 by telescoper

Although the risk of flooding has abated somewhat in these parts, the various alerts reminded me that I should post this classic piece of music. It’s not only a definitive example of the art of the blues, sung by the incomparable Bessie Smith with James P. Johnson on piano, but also an important piece of American social history, as it documents the Mississippi River flood of 1927, which brought death and devastation to seven southern states, including Tennessee and Arkansas as well as  Mississippi. It’s mistitled “Black Water” on the clip – it should be “Backwater”, but whatever its name it’s definitely the Blues.