Jimmy Yancey accompanying his wife Estella
|Birth name||James Edwards Yancey|
February 20, 1894|
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Died||September 17, 1951
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Associated acts||Jimmy and Mama Yancey|
James Edwards "Jimmy" Yancey (February 20, 1894 – September 17, 1951) was an African American boogie-woogie pianist, composer, and lyricist. One reviewer noted him as "one of the pioneers of this raucous, rapid-fire, eight-to-the-bar piano style".
Yancey was born in Chicago in (depending on the source) 1894 or 1898. His older brother, Alonzo Yancey (1894–1944) was also a pianist, while their father was a vaudeville guitarist and singer. By age ten, Yancey had toured across the United States as a tap dancer and singer, and by twenty he had toured throughout Europe. He began teaching himself piano at 15, and by 1915 had become a noted pianist and was already influencing younger musicians, including Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons.
While he played in a boogie-woogie style, with a strong-repeated figure in the left hand and melodic decoration in the right, his playing was delicate and subtle, rather than hard driving. He popularized the left-hand figure that became known as the "Yancey bass", later used in Pee Wee Crayton's "Blues After Hours", Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do", and many other songs. Yancey favored keys—such as E flat and A flat—that were atypical for barrelhouse blues. Distinctively, he ended many pieces in the key of E-flat, even if he had played in a different key right up to the ending.
Although influential from a young age, Yancey did not record at all through his early career, performing only at house parties and clubs. His first recordings in 1939 created a considerable stir in blues and jazz circles.
While most of his recordings were solo, later in his career he and his wife Estelle Yancey recorded together (she as a vocalist) under the name 'Jimmy and Mama Yancey'. They appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall in 1948, and recorded their first album in 1951—released by Atlantic Records the following year.
|Year||Title||Label and Number|
|1939||Beezum Blues||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Big Bear Train||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Janie's Joys||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Jimmy’s Stuff||Solo Art 12008|
|1939||How Long Blues||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||How Long Blues No. 2||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Lean Bacon||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||LaSalle Street Breakdown||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Lucille's Lament||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||P.L.K. Special||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Rolling The Stone||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||South Side Stuff||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Steady Rock Blues||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Two O'Clock Blues||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||The Fives||Solo Art 12008|
|1939||Yancy Getaway||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Yancy Limited||Solo Art - unissued|
|1939||Five O'Clock Blues||Victor 26590-A|
|1939||Slow and Easy Blues||Victor 26591-B|
|1939||State Street Special||Victor 26589-A|
|1939||Tell 'Em About Me||Victor 26590-B|
|1939||The Mellow Blues||Victor 26591-A|
|1939||Yancy Stomp||Victor 26589-B|
|1940||Bear Trap Blues||Vocalion 05490|
|1940||Crying In My Sleep||Bluebird B-8630|
|1940||Death Letter Blues||Bluebird B-8630|
|1940||I Love To Hear My Baby Call My Name||Gannet 5138|
|1940||Old Quaker Blues||Vocalion 05490|
|1940||35th and Dearborn||Victor 27238-B|
|1940||Yancey's Bugle Call||Victor 27238-A|
|1943||Jimmy's Rocks||Session 10-001|
|1943||Yancey's Mixture||Session - unissued|
- 1974 - The Immortal Jimmy Yancey 1898-1951, Oldie Blues, OL 2802
- 1980 - The Immortal Jimmy Yancey 1898-1951 Vol. 2, Oldie Blues, OL 2813
- "Biography by Chris Kelsey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- [If older brother, Alonzo Yancey was born in 1894, it would appear that Jim Yancey's correct year of birth would be 1898] Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed August 2011
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 193–194. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Olderen, Martin van, The Immortal Jimmy Yancey 1898-1951, liner notes, Oldie Blues, OL 2802, 1974
- Jimmy Yancey at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Redhotjazz.com biography
- Jimmy Yancey discography at Discogs
- Jimmy Yancey discography at Rate Your Music
- MIDI sequences of 5 Yancey compositions