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The Original Mr. Jelly Lord 1923-1941

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Album Review

Here's a core sample of 40 classic ensemble recordings by New Orleans jazz master Jelly Roll Morton. Most of these are Victor recordings, dating from the years 1926-1930, the golden years of Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers. The first two tracks are substantially rarer items originally issued on the OKeh label. "London Blues," played by Jelly Roll Morton's Jazz Band, was recorded in Chicago in 1923; "Soap Suds" (later known as "Fickle Fay Creep") was performed by the St. Louis Levee Band in St. Louis on October 30, 1926 — this one is gloriously obscure, and its inclusion on this anthology is a major asset. Anyone who knows Morton's discography will detect a few inevitable gaps even while admiring the selection of tunes that did make it onto this compilation. It's a shame the producers didn't haul off and plant an extra five tracks on each disc. This would have filled in some of those gaps, hopefully allowing for the inclusion of something from the magnificent occasion in 1930 when trombonist Wilbur de Paris sat in as a Red Hot Pepper, and more from the 'New Orleans Jazzmen' sessions of 1939 — especially the missing tracks that feature Sidney Bechet! But these problems can be solved by tapping into additional compilations, most especially the Jelly Roll Morton portion of the Classics Chronological Series or JSP's budget-priced four-CD Morton box. Avid's approach is always to assemble a smattering of great recordings that epitomize the life and work of the artist, and this they have achieved most admirably. A pair of marvelous recordings waxed for the General label in 1940 round off this most enjoyable portrait album dedicated to the memory of Jelly Roll Morton.


Born: 20 October 1890 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s

One of the very first giants of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton did himself a lot of harm posthumously by exaggerating his worth, claiming to have invented jazz in 1902. Morton's accomplishments as an early innovator are so vast that he did not really need to stretch the truth. Morton was jazz's first great composer, writing such songs as "King Porter Stomp," "Grandpa's Spells," "Wolverine Blues," "The Pearls," "Mr. Jelly Roll," "Shreveport Stomp," "Milenburg Joys," "Black Bottom Stomp," "The Chant," "Original...
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