James P. Johnson’s Last Rent Party

James Price JohnsonI’m glad to say that I haven’t neglected James P. Johnson on my show, over the years I’ve done my very small part in keeping his music and his memory alive. His music is his real memorial — he really was one of the giants who helped form and develop jazz — but there are are other, more physical memorials that show that we remember those who came before, and it turns out that James P. Johnson lies in an unmarked grave in Queens. Scott Brown discovered the location of the grave last February, and last week Smalls in New York held a benefit to raise money for a headstone. Billed as “James P. Johnson’s Last Rent Party” it ended with 5 hours of solo piano by 12 pianists — you can read
Ben Ratliff’s New York Times review of the concert online: Raising Roof and Headstone for Pioneering Pianist. There is also a NYT blog piece by Corey Kilgannon about Johnson’s and other early jazz greats’ modest graves Giants of Jazz Rest Modestly in