OLIVIER LANCELOT STRIDES ON

I happened upon this YouTube clip (click the picture to play it) by accident, web-surfing in hopes of finding a CD issue of James P. Johnson’s solos that had both takes of “If Dreams Come True” together. That didn’t appear — but I now know about the French stride wonder M. Lancelot, caught here in his native habitat. He’s played with Paris Washboard, and has appeared in the United States before. And he will be appearing later this year with Dan Levinson at a number of gigs. But, for now, admire the lightness and dexterity of his left hand, performing what Louis Mazetier calls the “windshield wiper” motion so essential to stride. And if he’s loosely based this performance on James P.’s famous 1939 solo, that is an asset, not a liability. People like myself who have been listening to that record for years (I first encountered it in my local library sometime before 1970 . . . !) can now SEE how James P. made some of those sounds. Three minutes of bliss, it seems like.

For information about Lancelot and his United States gigs, check www.lancelotmusic.com., and www.danlevinson.com.

9 responses to “OLIVIER LANCELOT STRIDES ON

  1. cool, right hand like an amazing dancing spider,

  2. amazing. pretty much note-for-note the James P. version if I recall…

  3. Just one of many great stride pianists from Europe including Rossano Sportiello now based in NY

  4. We are most fortunate to have at least 3 known versions of James P. Johnson recordings of ” If Dreams Come True .” The best known is of course the June 14, 1939 solo recording, which was first issued on the 1962 Columbia LP, CL 1780, Father of the Stride Piano. It has been re-issued several times, both on LP and CD. The piece was apparently a favorite of Johnson’s, as there is also an air shot from an Eddie Condon Town Hall concert from 1944 . This has been issued both on LP ( Pumpkin ), and CD ( Jazzology). The rarest version, is the aforementioned alternate take of the John Hammond Columbia session. The story of how it came to public attention is as follows:

    It would have been the Fall/Winter of 1980/81 when I first started to go hear Mike Lipskin play at the Washington Square Bar and Grill in SF. I was 20, and in my senior at Stanford, and just beginning to develop an interest in stride piano. After much strenuous effort, I had managed to locate a copy of the by then rare and out of print ” Father of the Stride Piano “. It did not take me long to learn every one of the 18 or so tracks on the LP by heart. The very first cut on the record was, ” If Dreams Come True “. I eventually got to know Mike, who as many of you will know, had worked as a producer at RCA, and got to know many of the recording engineers, who recorded James P., and especially Fats, who had worked at Victor.

    At this stage of my life, I was beginning to develop an insatiable appetite for all things James P., and quickly came to internalize the published James P. discography ( at the time, the listings in Rust and in Jepsen ). I asked Mike if he had any of the Johnson recordings that I still had not heard, and therefore was looking for, and also casually asked if he had any alternate takes or other un-issued John Hammond material. He subsequently gave me a cassette tape, containing the entire Hammond solo session, with the alternate version of ” If Dreams Come True”, in place of the issued version. The alternate is instantaneously identifiable as being distinct from the issued take. Naturally, I was curious as to if there were yet more alternates. The answer turned out to be ” No “, although over the years, multiple alternates of the Johnson/ Hammond band sides have emerged. The best, most extensive compilation, was issued on a Moon records CD, MCD082-2, entitled, James P. Johnson and His Orchestra: Harlem Woogie.

    In the fall of 1981, I moved to New York, to attend medical school. I sat on the alternate of “If Dreams Come True “, for a year or 2, until I casually mentioned to Brooks Kerr, who I went to hear that night, that I had this rare gem. Brooks immediately called his friend Jerry Valburn, who scheduled a ” listening session ” with Brooks, and Ken Noble ( an ophthalmologist and Johnson collector ) to confirm what they must have thought was something of a bold claim on the part of this obscure young medical student. I played the tape, and the jury was immediately convinced. I then arranged for the tape to get to Jerry Valburn, who issued the recording on his Merritt Label, Merrit LP 25 c. 1984. Jerry sent the tape to Bob Hilbert, who was then preparing the most up to date Johnson discography, for his blessing. In gratitude, Bob sent to me, completely unsolicited, a tape of the still un-issued ? 1954 Donald Lambert solo session for Circle. There were 8 tunes( the matrices, if I recall correctly were centered around NY 230 ), and according to the discographies, which were planned to be issued on a 10″ LP. Circle went out of business before the tracks came. I am guessing that they are now owned by George Buck/Jazzology. Hope springs eternal that all of the Buck owned /controlled Lambert sides will one day appear on CD.

  5. Pour ceux qui ont connu Pierre Calligaris, Olivier est son digne successeur !

  6. Olivier’s stride version of Swan Lake is truly inspired and inspiring.

  7. The alternate take of ” If Dreams Come True “, by James P. Johnson, from the 1939 John Hammond solo session, can be found here. It is a program from Dave Radlauer’s Jazz Rhythm ( # 138 ), on James P. Johnson in the 1930s. http://jazzhotbigstep.com/24264.html

  8. The aforementioned alternate take of the Johnson piano solo of If Dreams Come True, has been re-issued for the second time on the new Mosiac Release :
    Classic James P. Johnson Sessions (#262) http://www.mosaicrecords.com/prodinfo.asp?number=262-MD-CD

  9. The Mosiac set also contains a truely remarkable alternate of Jimmy’s solo of Weeping Blues, from 1923. There are also multiple alternates of the John Hammond band sides from 1939, previously issued on the Moon CD.

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