Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jelly Roll Morton - Birth Of The Hot (1926-27)

When in 1995 RCA reissued 19 titles and four alternate takes from the first nine months of Jelly Roll Morton's adventure as a Victor recording artist, the producers elected to christen the album "Birth of the Hot". This title, which is a takeoff on that of Miles Davis' 1949 Birth of the Cool album (later echoed in modified phraseology by the Gil Evans Impulse LPs Out of the Cool and Into the Hot) accurately pegs these exciting 1926-1927 recordings as archetypal manifestations of the classic New Orleans "hot" jazz style that Morton pioneered first as a pianist, then with a series of groups that paved the way for the successes of his supremely adept and well-rehearsed Red Hot Peppers band. This excellent sampler ought to whet the appetite for a larger selection of Morton's works as reissued by numerous labels including Classics, Proper, JSP, and of course RCA Victor. If all you need is a straight shot of Jelly, this is the genuine article. ~ arwulf arwulf

01 Black Bottom Stomp
02 Smoke House Blues
03 The Chant
04 Sidewalk Blues [Take 3]
05 Dead Man Blues [Take 1]
06 Steamboat Stomp
07 Someday Sweetheart
08 Grandpa's Spells [Take 3]
09 Original Jelly-Roll Blues
10 Doctor Jazz
11 Cannon Ball Blues [Take 2]
12 Hyena Stomp
13 Billy Goat Stomp
14 Wild Man Blues
15 Jungle Blues
16 Beale Street Blues
17 The Pearls
18 Wolverine Blues
19 Mr. Jelly Lord
20 Sidewalk Blues [Take 2]
21 Dead Man Blues [Take 2]
22 Grandpa's Spells [Take 2]
23 Cannon Ball Blues [Take 1]

Digitally remastered by Dennis Ferrante.

Red Hot Pepper Sessions

Recorded at the Webster Hotel and Victor Talking Machine Recording Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois between September 15, 1926 and June 10, 1927. Includes liner notes by Lawrence Gushee and Orrin Keepnews.

Personnel: Jelly Roll Morton (vocals, piano); Johnny St. Cyr (guitar, banjo); Bud Scott (guitar); Clarence Black, J. Wright Smith (violin); Omer Simeon (clarinet, bass clarinet); Darnell Howard, Johnny Dodds, Barney Bigard (clarinet); Stump Evans (alto saxophone); George Mitchell (cornet); Gerald Reeves, Kid Ory (trombone); Quinn Wilson (tuba); Andrew Hilaire, Baby Dodds (drums).

Jelly Roll Morton was at a creative peak in Chicago in 1926 and '27, surrounded by first-rate fellow New Orleans musicians and with plenty of opportunities to record. Many of the musicians who contributed to Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings appear here--trombonist Kid Ory, banjoist Johnny St. Cyr, clarinetist Johnny Dodds, and his drummer brother Baby Dodds--while George Mitchell contributes sterling cornet leads. Each track is a compressed masterpiece, a jigsaw puzzle of written composition, improvised ensembles, solos and duets, often with sound effects and bantering comic patter thrown in. "Black Bottom Stomp" and "The Chant" are brilliant examples of Morton's energized fusion of contrasting elements, while the piquant "Someday Sweetheart," with its combination of violins, guitar, and Omer Simeon's bass clarinet, demonstrates Morton's inventiveness as an orchestrator. From low humor to high mimicry, Morton was an artist of ebullient spirit who brought the whole of his experience to the recording studio: the car horn of "Sidewalk Blues," the forced laughter of "Hyena Stomp," and the barnyard vocals of "Billy Goat Stomp." By contrast, the final Chicago session includes compact trio performances of "Wolverine Blues" and "Mr. Jelly Lord" by Morton and the Dodds brothers that are refined intersections of ragtime and jazz improvisation. --Stuart Broomer

More reviews:

While there are many Jelly Roll Morton recordings on the market today, none are as superbly digitally remastered or include such a fine selection of tunes from Morton. Jelly Roll indeed was his hottest between 1926-27. These songs are IT -- the essence of New Orleans jazz. "Black Bottomed Stomp," "Sidewalk Blues," "Dr. Jazz," "The Chant" -- they're all here. Quite frankly, I have over 100 jazz CD's and this one ranks in my top ten. I could write a paragraph about each song on the album -- from the sizzling clarinet solo in "Black Bottomed Stomp," to the shouting and car horn included in "Side Walk Blues," to the sad melodic wailing in "Dead Man Blues." In recent years, many jazz artists, such as Dick Hyman, have tried re-create these old recordings themselves. But the truth is no one can quite capture that frenetic yet completely coherent excitement that is distinctly Morton.

hot jazz and cool blues


"Jelly Roll Morton is one of the great figures of jazz music . . . He is also one of the best pianists I have ever heard . . . The music on every side is almost uniformly magnificent ... I must also mention the trio records . . . It is through them that he gave us a very large part of his touching music . . . long before Benny Goodman s trip, which was presented to the public as an innovation and which always remained far below the Morton Trio's per­formances. . . " -H. Panassie, Jazz Information, 1941.

"Doctor Jazz reveals most of the qualities of classic jazz in their fullest development. It is difficult to exhaust its variety: wide contrast of timbres; African polyrhythms; breaks; chain-breaks and solos; head' ar­rangement; free polyphony and Afro-American variation shown by the constant mutations of rhythmic pattern, tone, instrumentation, and melody." -R. Blesch, Shining Trumpets, 1945.

"If you never heard Jelly Roll at his best, you ain't never heard jazz piano. . " -Bud Scott


The Fortunes Of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and Inventor Of Jazz by Alan Lomax with Drawings by David Stone Martin Also with some sheet music and lyrics samples - Complete Online Book here.


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