Albert Ammons, along with Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis are the early kings of boogie woogie piano, and their repertoires are an absolute goldmine of incredible licks. I tried to incorporate some of the left hand chop in with the right hand licks – that’s part of the fun and the challenge of adapting piano parts to the banjo. Check out the original version below if you’re not familiar with it, and hope you enjoy the creative license I took with it to make it sound more natural on the 5-string.
Started riffing on this classic boogie woogie pattern after this Nola legend passed away. Much of it is pretty straightforward but then he’ll hit you with some totally out of the box turnaround which is really unexpected.
I generally focus on the right hand of piano players when I’m copping licks, as they translate really well to banjo. But sooner or later I had to reckon with working out the right and left hands together. This Professor Longhair standard seemed like the obvious starting point, and the drop-C tuning really opened up some nice voicings.
I love the way these voicings sit up the neck on the banjo. Check out the transcription below…
Some Marvin Gaye by way of Allen Toussaint arranged for the 5-string.
I’m very excited to share my arrangement of the Professor Longhair classic “Big Chief.” This is the very first piano tune that I arranged for banjo and set me down the path of adapting blues and boogie for the 5 string. This can also be found in the March 2016 issue of The Banjo Newsletter.