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Jelly's Last Jam (Soundtrack from the Musical)

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Album Review

The good news is that Gregory Hines, playing the part of Jelly Roll Morton in this successful Broadway musical, creates a full-bodied character and performs it with conviction and gusto. His Jelly is proud, impressive, and ultimately tragic. The bad news is that he is also fictional: Writer-director George C. Wolfe has distorted Jelly Roll Morton's true story to tell a fable about African-American assimilation and the evolution of jazz. Unfortunately, Luther Henderson's musical adaptation does to Morton's music what Wolfe does to his life, and the result will be frowned upon by jazz fans, even though it conforms to Broadway conventions.


Born: 14 February 1946 in New York, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '80s

Best-known as a dancer -- tap, specifically -- and an actor of stage and screen, Gregory Hines was also a singer of some accomplishment. A self-titled album appeared in 1987, after a guest spot the previous year on Luther Vandross' Give Me the Reason album. It was the only popular venture that Hines would make, but not the first or last recording. Cast recordings for several Broadway stage hits feature Hines the singer in fine form, including Eubie! (1975), Sophisticated Lady (1981), and Jelly's...
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