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Jelly Roll Morton

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Album Review

JSP's five-CD set devoted to Jelly Roll Morton contains all of his Victor recordings cut between September 1926 and October 1930. The sound quality is excellent and complete discographical information is provided along with insightful liner notes. Alternate takes are presented on separate discs so as to avoid redundancy. This creates doppelgängers, as it were, of most of the sessions involving larger ensembles. Jelly Roll Morton is heard as a solo pianist and as leader of his trios, Red Hot Peppers, and orchestra. The only shortcoming is the absence of eight titles recorded for Victor's Bluebird imprint in 1939 by Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen. Had the producers of this otherwise excellent compilation opted for these classic latter-day Jellies instead of obsessing over every single alternate take from the earlier sessions, this would be a serious contender for the "best and most affordable Jelly Roll Morton set" award. As it stands, JSP's hefty anthology is a great way to obtain most of Morton's major work on CD at relatively little cost. The very best way to study this artist is to start at the beginning of his discography using the Classics Chronological Series and then move forward. After hearing these canonic classic jazz recordings as presented by JSP, some folks will indeed want to zoom in for close-ups and study every recorded episode in this primal jazzman's life and works.


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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