THE FIFTY BEST OF JAZZ before the fifty best of jazz

The Dead Sea Scroll of jazz piano. (Literally a scroll; a generation of pianists learned the song from its player-piano roll.) Johnson’s performance of his self-composed rag codified the Harlem “stride” flavor of syncopation, ornamentation, and improvisation. It inspired Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, and Jaki Byard; in the likes of Jason Moran and Christian Sands, its spirit lives on today