Jelly Roll Morton: A Pivotal Figure in Early Jazz

Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton was a New Orleans-born “Creole of color” who is considered to be one of the most important figures in early jazz.

Many peoples’ impressions of early jazz are distorted by the primitive recording equipment. The quality of the sound can be thought of as the equivalent of what people’s movements look like in silent movies. These two recordings of Morton show how subtle the music — at least his — really is.

A comment at the YouTube page featuring The Crave (above) writes that the recording was taken from a piano roll. I am not sure if the person knows that or is guessing, but it makes sense. In any case, the piece is absolutely beautiful.

64 Parishes has a nice profile of Morton:

Jelly Roll Morton was the first important composer and arranger of New Orleans jazz, as well as an agile pianist, a compelling singer, and one of the early jazz world’s most flamboyant characters. The nickname “Jelly Roll” was derived from sexual slang, and “Morton” was a stage moniker. His given first name was Ferdinand, and his surname has been variously stated as LaMothe, Lemott, or LaMenthe, while his year of birth is either 1885 or 1890. Continue Reading…

The writer of the profile points to a site — it’s name isn’t clear — which offers a tremendous amount of information about Morton.

King Porter Stomp is below.

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