Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Classics 668: Jelly Roll Morton 1939-40

Classics 668
Jelly Roll Morton 1939-1940
Release Date
: 1996
Rating: B

Other notable musicians in this CD: Henry "Red" Allen, Albert Nicholas, Zutty Singleton
Label(s): General, Commodore
Number of sessions: 6
Unissued materials: none
Track Highlights: The Crave, Big Lip Blues.
Other issue or reissues: Last Sessions: Complete General Recordings (Commodore CMD 14032)

About the period:
Jelly Roll's health was poor. His pockets empty. His belly loaded with whiskey. He was dyin'.
"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
If the women don't get you, the whiskey must!"

The Album:
Jelly Roll's last recordings for General label. "I have a subject of mutual benefit to discuss with you," wrote Jelly to Charles Smith. General Records had asked Jelly for an album of the old New Orleans favorites. "Jelly was extremely ill," writes Mr. Smith, "and we used as many as four waxes on certain sides." The stand-out side, of course, was Mamies Blues, which, everyone agreed, was not "commercial." Nevertheless it has kept the album in print ever since, and has been called the most beautiful of all jazz piano records. When General went on to make some "commercials" with a swing band composed of Henry Allen trumpet, Joe Britten trombone, Albert Nicholas clarinet, Eddie Williams alto sax, Welman Braud bass, Zutie Singleton drams, and Jelly Roll piano, the records died fast.

The set starts with The Crave, one of those melancholic moments of Jelly Roll, a great combination of poetry and piano. Then comes The Naked Dance , a stride/ragtime kind of fast tempo solo on keyboards, executed perfectly by Morton.There is Buddy Bolden's Blues, an homage to trumpet master of New Orleans and we can add it to the small catalog of jazz tributes to Bolden like Hey, Buddy Bolden in Ellington's The Drum is a Woman LP, and also a reinterpretation of Ellington piece by Nina Simone. Again, Jelly Roll's Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say and Sidney Buddy Bolden Stomp and Buddy Bolden Story.

After you listened to superb trumpet solo of "Red" Allen on Big Lip Blues, then dig Mamie's Blues. "This is the first blues I ever heard in my life," that's Jelly's own introduction to the tune.

As Spring of 1941 came to Los Angeles, Jerry Roll's death came along and closed and locked the keyboard. He was in the middle of planning his next recording session of New Orleans music, but that was the end.

--Ehsan Khoshbakht

Listen to The Crave, 1939:


Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 14, 1939

R-2562 The Crave
R-2563 The Naked Dance
R-2564 Mister Joe
R-2565 King Porter Stomp
R-2566 Winin' Boy Blues

Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 16, 1939

R-2570 Buddy Bolden's Blues
R-2571 The Naked Dance
R-2572 Don't You Leave Me Here
R-2573 Mamie's Blues

Jelly Roll Morton
New York. December 18, 1939

R-2579 Michigan Water Blues

Jelly-Roll Morton's Seven
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Joe Britton(tb)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 4, 1940

R-2582 Sweet Substitute
R-2583 Panama
R-2584 Good Old New York
R-2585 Big Lip Blues

Jelly-Roll Morton Six
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 23, 1940

R-2621 Why?
R-2622 Get me Bucket
R-2623 If I Knew
R-2624 Shake It

The Morton Seven
Jelly-Roll Morton (p,voc)/Henry "Red" Allen(t)/Claude Jones(tb)/Albert Nicholas(cl)/Eddie Williams(altosax)/Wellman Braud(b)/Zuny Singleton(d).
New York, January 30, 1940

R-2632 Dirty, Dirty, Dirty
R-2633 Swinging The Elks
R-2634 Mama's Cot A Baby
R-2635 My Home is in a Southern Town

Total Time: 62 mins. (approximately)

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