Sammy Price Day

October 6, 1908 – April 14, 1992


A birthday tribute to the blues, boogie-woogie and jazz pianist

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Pianist Sammy Price was born October 6, 1908 in Honey Grove, Texas.

Price first played alto horn before switching to piano when his family moved to Dallas.

After winning a Charleston dance contest, he worked on the T.O.B.A. black vaudeville circuit as a singer and dancer.

However his piano skills were soon recognized and Price worked in Texas and Oklahoma as a bandleader by the late 1920s, recording five titles during 1929-30 including one number (“Blue Rhythm Stomp”) as the leader of Sammy Price and his Four Quarters.

He was part of the Kansas City jazz scene during the first half of the 1930s, developing into a significant boogie-woogie, blues and jazz pianist.

After moving to New York, Price worked as the house pianist for the Decca label for the next 15 years, appearing on over 300 titles in a variety of blues and jazz settings in addition to functioning as a talent scout, arranger-composer and musical director.

Price also led his “Texas Bluesicians” on some sessions including one that had Lester Young as his sideman.

Price recorded with Mezz Mezzrow and Sidney Bechet in the mid-1940s, became a popular attraction in France, made many recordings (including with Doc Cheatham as late as 1988), and stayed busy throughout his life, passing away at the age of 83 in 1992.

Here is a brief performance by Sammy Price of “Swingin’ The Boogie” from 1958 in a trio with bassist Arvell Shaw and drummer J.C. Heard.

-Scott Yanow


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