Each and every one of JSP's affordably priced four-CD sets is well worth pouncing on, and Hey! Piano Man is no exception. Released in 2005, this blues and boogie tetralogy focuses upon the early recordings of Jimmy Yancey, Meade "Lux" Lewis, Pete Johnson, and Albert Ammons, using records cut during the years 1935-1940. This incredibly satisfying set illuminates the interwoven influences that made their music into a sturdy launching pad for the national boogie-woogie craze of the late '30s and early '40s. Yancey, whose modes sometimes reveal a clear lineage leading back to New Orleans and Caribbean influences, employed a wonderfully personal, introspective approach to his music, and the importance of an entire disc filled with this man's piano solos cannot be overemphasized. Lewis, a seemingly inexhaustible font of ideas and improvisatory variables, is well-represented here, although one of the highlights of the entire set (located on Lewis' disc) is the nearly six-minute piano duo version of "Nagasaki," which is mainly a showcase for Ammons' joyously explosive attacks upon the upper octaves of the instrument. Ammons and Johnson were both superb jazz players with formidable stride piano chops. One of the grievous failures in all of recorded jazz was the industry's failure to line up either or both of them with Fats Waller, but that seems never to have happened. Four masterful sides by Albert Ammons & His Rhythm Kings reveal him at his very best; these recordings, made in 1936, combine trumpet and sax with a rhythm section that included bassist Israel Crosby and guitarist Ike Perkins. Ammons is heard solo, with trombonist J.C. Higginbotham's Quintet; with trumpeter Frankie Newton and the Port of Harlem Jazzmen; and with trumpeter Harry James & His Boogie Woogie Trio. Pete Johnson is also featured with the Harry James unit, with his own Blues Trio, and as a soloist. The rarest material is positioned at the opening of Johnson's part of the set; three Library of Congress recordings made on Christmas Eve 1938 consist of a smart reading of "Roll 'Em," a sobering "Dying Mother Blues" sung by Ammons, no less, and a severely battered "Fo' O'Clock Blues," which is so scratchy and uneven that some may object to its inclusion here. Given the fact that this is a rare example of Pete Johnson speaking at length while manipulating the keyboard, someone ought to invest in the technological processing necessary for a complete remastering of this extremely rare yet difficult to navigate recording. This is not the first time it has been made available to the public. Document brought it out on a collection awhile back, warts and all. The fact that the folks at JSP inserted it in this collection "as is" may come as a surprise to those who are accustomed to this label's often miraculous restoration of ancient and considerably weathered pressings. If Rounder was able to rescue and remaster the complete Library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton, there's no reason on earth that computer science could not be used to salvage this tantalizing blend of language and blues piano by the one and only Pete Johnson.