Sixty years ago, I would have called Jim Dapogny (that’s Professor Emeritus James to some of you) a solid sender — someone we could count on to “send” us, to inspire us as soon as he began to play the piano. The term now has the odd mustiness of archaic slang, but the praise still applies. Whether he’s taking his time with a rhythm ballad, rocking the blues, or developing a swing cathedral-in-the-air (consider the three variations on LIZA here), he is a full-scale orchestral pianist, creating fascinating textures as he goes and always keeping the rhythm moving — a genuine treasure.
Here’s his informal concert from Sept. 16, 2011, at Jazz at Chautauqua:
I didn’t recognize his opening song, which didn’t surprise me — Jim has often found and shared obscure compositions with us (last year it was Victor Schertzinger’s MY START) but this one has a wonderful Thirties flavor. Since I had never seen the Diana Ross “biography” of Billie Holiday, I had missed out on HAD YOU BEEN AROUND — with its oddly formal title — but I loved this Dapogny evocation. Now I don’t have to see the film, ever:
Jim says that he is strongly influenced by Jess Stacy and Joe Sullivan (as well as a long list of pianists famous and obscure — including Hines, Morton, their colleagues and descendents) — here’s his homage to Mister Stacy, REMEMBERING JESS STACY:
Professor Dapogny’s casual erudition is always at the service of the music (I’m sorry I never got to sit in on one of his classes) — here he comments on W.C. Handy’s ATLANTA BLUES, borrowed in large part from MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR:
Scrapper Blackwell’s melancholy I’M GOING HOME (or is it I’M GOIN’ HOME?):
And two American classics — BODY AND SOUL, played as if generations of jazz players had not yet walked through or over it:
To conclude, a taking-his-ease version of LIZA that works up a lovely head of steam:
All hail James Dapogny, poet and expert barrelhouse pianist!