Roy Bargy

Although somewhat peripheral to jazz, pianist Roy Bargy recorded six piano solos (mostly in the novelty ragtime style) of interest between 1922 and 1924; these, along with his 11 piano rolls, were reissued on a Folkways LP. Bargy had had 12 years of piano lessons starting from when he was five. He had originally planned to become a classical pianist, but instead started working in the popular music field. He played piano and organ at local movie houses, organized his own school orchestra and in 1919 began cutting piano rolls. The following year he was hired as pianist, arranger and musical director for the Benson Orchestra of Chicago. In the mid-1920s, Bargy worked for a time with Isham Jones and then gained his greatest fame as pianist with Paul Whiteman (1928-40), where his "legitimate" technique allowed him to play both credible jazz and classical solos (such as "Rhapsody In Blue"). Bargy spent his later years working in the early '40s with Lanny Ross on radio and served as Jimmy Durante's musical director from 1943-63 before retiring. Bargy's best-known composition is "Pianoflage." ~ Scott Yanow

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