Saturday, June 29, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Jelly Roll Morton

Artist:Jelly Roll Morton
Song:Black Bottom Stomp

Jelly Roll Morton was a jazz pioneer as a writer, arranger and bandleader. His 1926 recording Black Bottom Stomp is an important recording in jazz history. The only problem with Morton is he went a little overboard with self promotion claiming he invented jazz and similar nonsense. It made him look foolish and it wasn't necessary. His music was enough. He was born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe Oct. 20, 1890 In New Orleans. Some other dates have been thrown around but this date is on his baptismal certificate. When his parents separated, his mother married a man named Mouton which was anglicized to Morton. As a teen, he played piano in a brothel and gave himself the nickname Jelly Roll. Of course that is a slang term for genatalia. When his grandmother found out he was playing jazz in a brothel, she threw him out of the house. Morton toured minstrel shows in 1904 and composed songs like Jelly Roll Blues and King Porter Stomp during this time. While touring vaudeville with his girlfriend Rosa Brown, Morton settled in Chicago. Then he moved to Vancouver for a few years. He moved back to Chicago in 1923. In those days, many folks had player pianos that used piano rolls. So Morton's first recordings were on piano rolls. In 1926, he signed with RCA Victor and Black Bottom Stomp was first recorded at that time. Black Bottom Stomp was a rearranged version of a song called Queen Of Spades. Musicians on the recording were Omer Simeon on clarinet, George Mitchell on trumpet, Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, John Lindsay on bass and Andrew Hilaire on drums. Ory went on to a significant career as a bandleader. St. Cyr and Hilaire both worked with Louis Armstrong. Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers were a very successful touring act. The 1926 recordings are the cream of Morton's recordings. You can get them on this Bluebird budget comp along with some of his later recordings just to put things into context. Morton got married and moved to New York in 1928. His New York recordings weren't as successful and RCA dropped him in 1931. Morton was known to be very arrogant and a lot of musicians wouldn't work with him. Things got so bad he even toured with a burlesque show. Black Bottom Stomp was a big band hit but Morton didn't copyright it so no royalties for him. He moved to Washington in 1935 to manage a bar. While there, he was interviewed by folklorist Alan Lomax. Morton claimed he invented jazz but he lied about his age so he could claim that. His claims are refuted by jazz historians. Morton was stabbed in 1938. Though he recorded in 1939, his health gradually declined until his death on July 10, 1941 at age 50. Despite some of his silly claims, Morton's music was very influential especially on stride piano and blues. He is in The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and the Broadway musical Jelly's Last Jam is based on his life. Here's a video for Black Bottom Blues by Jelly Roll Morton.

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