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Vincent Johnson - Sierra Madre, CA

A pianist, composer and transcriber, Vincent Johnson is dedicated to the preservation of 1920s & 1930s syncopated piano playing. He was first attracted to piano at age 12, when he heard his friends playing Scott Joplin rags. Unable to play the piano at the time, he taught himself to play Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer by listening to recordings and watching other pianists play these pieces. During this same period, he enrolled in a music course at California State University Los Angeles, which introduced him to music theory.

His interest in ragtime brought him to the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club, where he was exposed to the many different types of syncopated piano music that proliferated during the early part of the 20th Century. In addition to his already extant love for classic ragtime, he developed an interest in early jazz, advanced ragtime, stride piano, 1930s pop songs and ballads, and novelty piano. The pianistic technicality required for these styles necessitated formal piano lessons and a further study of music theory.

In 2006, Vincent began a string of appearances in RagFest and at the ragtime musicales held several times each year by Orange County Ragtime Society. In 2007, Vincent began composing piano solos and songs as a pastime and has a collection of more than 30 pieces. While his pieces are composed in various syncopated styles, including foxtrots (“Dancing Daffodils”), cakewalks (“Betty Crocker’s Cakewalk”), folk rags (“The Mother Lode Rag”), and tone poems (“Starlight”), a large majority of his compositions are in the novelty style popular in the 1920s & 1930s. These pieces reflect the influence of his favorite composers: Zez Confrey, Arthur Schutt, Roy Bargy, Lothar Perl, Fred Elizalde, Billy Mayerl, George Gershwin, Sasha Tsfasman, and Claude Debussy.

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