Janice Scroggins

Janice Scroggins at the Steinway in a striped robe, Photography by Fudge

Photography by Fudge

We are all saddened and stunned beyond belief by the news of Janice's sudden death on May 27th, 2014. Words fail.

Janice Scroggins was one of the most in-demand pianists in the Northwest today. She's on a ton of albums, not just on Flying Heart, but on this label she plays on Eddie Harris's album, Tom McFarland's first album, all three Esquires albums, and her own album of Scott Joplin rags. This was for many years the only recording on which Janice Scroggins is the named headline artist. A newly remastered pressing was released in 2010. Furthermore, Janice is all over our 18-song Portland Blues sampler, "A Taste of the Blue Rose," playing with practically everyone on the project, in a kind of "house band" that included Randy Monroe on bass and Carlton Jackson on drums. Writing in the November 1998 Two Louies, S.P. Clarke describes Janice as "the very model of the perfect side musician, utilizing space in her keyboard delivery, leaving plenty of room for the other players, while glistening in her moments to shine." That assessment is as accurate today as ever.

Janice has a new CD out called Piano Love and released in 2014 on Michael Allen Harrison's MAH label. This is the album we've all been waiting for! It is a thing of beauty.

On Janice Scroggins Plays Scott Joplin, Janice plays the ragtime classics with a completely different feel from the usual "forty cups of coffee" technique, that is, much more slowly and deliberately. This is fully in keeping with Joplin's specific instruction that "it is never right to play ragtime fast." Moreover, she takes certain liberties with the printed page, adding an intro here or a left hand run there. The result is a fascinating interpretation of Scott Joplin's work. The rags are a revelation at the somewhat more stately tempo, and the other compositions are played with what can only be called "a whole lot of soul."

Janice was born in 1955 in Idabel, Oklahoma. She began performing as a pianist at the age of three. Her mother and grandmother both played piano or organ in church, and Janice particularly credits her grandmother with influencing her left hand technique with her stride-oriented approach. Janice moved to Portland in 1978 with her infant daughter in arms, and lived in Portland to the end with her family, playing constantly with so many musicians that it would be difficult to list them here. Everyone wanted Janice in their band. She died of a heart attack. She was 58.

Click here to see a really nice CBA website about Janice.

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updated May 28th, 2014 by Jan Chciuk-Celt