Various Artists: 'Boogie Woogie Anthology'

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The cover of Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie (originally 'The Boogie Woogie Anthology')

MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Some music is just for fun. You don't look into it for depth. That doesn't mean that the music is shallow. It's just that the emphasis is on good times, and we like that in a style. Don't we, A.B.?

A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Yes, Murray. That's why you need one good boogie woogie anthology in your NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. Such a collection is the two-volume set called simply, Boogie Woogie. Here's Meade Lux Lewis, who used to dominate boogie cutting sessions.


SPELLMAN: There's something powerful about that rolling eight-to-the-bar bass that lifted the chording and riffing blues in the right hand. It pulled you right out of your chair, and it wasn't entirely piano music. Here's a fairly gentle version by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with the brass playing the rolling eight.


HORWITZ: But you know, A.B., when I think of boogie woogie, I think of piano. And if you can't respond to Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons playing "Sixth Avenue Express," you may as well check in into the nearest mortuary.


SPELLMAN: Boogie worked well under a blues singer, as in this famous collaboration between Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, which includes my favorite pick-up line of all time: "You're so beautiful, but you gotta die someday. All I want is some lovin' before you pass away."

HORWITZ: [laughing] I've used that.


HORWITZ: The collection is called Boogie Woogie. It's on the Proper/Retro label. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

SPELLMAN: And, I'm A.B. Spellman.

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Various Artists

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