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You should see him strolling down the street,
The man s an angel with great big feetl
With his melodies,
Have made him lord of ivories . . .
Just a simple little chord.
Now at home as well as abroad,
They call him Mister Jelly Lord . . .
His diamond-studded grin lit up the sombre haH as he feathered his barrel-house rhythms out of the concert grand. **You hear that riff* he said. "They call swing that today, but it's just a little thing I made up way back yonder. Yeah, I guess that riffs so old it's got whiskers on it. Whatever those guys play today, they're playing Jelly Roll."
Creole child of New Orleans in the last days of her glory, Jelly Roll grew up to become the first and most influential composer of jazz. He and his Red Peppers put the heat in the hottest jazz of the '20's, but the Depression generation, forgot Jelly Roll and his music. He had to pawn his diamond sock-supporters and 1938 found him playing for coffee and cakes in an obscure Washington nightspot. Years of poverty and neglect, however, had neither dimmed his brilliance at the keyboard nor diminished his self-esteem. He came to the Library of Congress to put himself forever on record, to carve his proper niche in the hall of history and, incidentally, to lay the groundwork for his fight to climb back into bigtime. This lonely Creole, without a dime in his pockets or a friend in the world, began by outlining his plans to sue The Music Corporation of America and the American Society of Composers Aiithors and Publishers.
There was something tremendously appealing about the old jazzman with his Southern-gentleman manners and his sporting-life lingo. I decided to find out how much of old New Orleans lived in his mind. So with the microphone near the piano of the Coolidge Chamber Music Auditorium I set out