Jelly Roll Morton, Inventor Of Jazz, Online Book by Alan Lomax

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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to make a few records of Jelly Roll* little knowing that I had encountered a Creole Benvenuto Cellini.
The amplifier was hot. The needle was tracing a quiet spiral on the spinning acetate. "Mister Morton/* I said, "How about the beginning? Tell about where you were born and how you got started and why . . . and maybe keep playing piano while you talk. . . ."
Jelly Roll nodded and his hands looked for soft, strange chords at a lazy tempo. . .
"Well, as I can understand. . .
... a gray and oHve chord. . „ "My folks were in the city of New Orleans. . "
... a whisper of harmony like Spanish moss. . . "Long before the Louisiana purchase. . *
... a chord of distant bugles. . . "And all my folks came directly I mean from the shores of France And they landed in this new world years ago. . "
... a gravel voice melting at the edges, not talking but spin­ning out a life in something close to song » . . each sentence almost a stanza of a slow blues . . . each stanza flowing out of the last like the eddies of a big sleepy Southern river where the power hides below a quiet brown surface. ...
♦That hot May afternoon in the Library of Congress a new way of writing history began—history with music cues, the music evoking recollection and poignant feeling—history im* toned out of the heart of one man, sparkling with dialogue and purple with ego. Names of friends long dead and of honkey-tonks quiet for a half century, songs and tunes and precise musical styles of early New Orleans musicians for^ gotten by everyone but Morton—he recalled these things as if they were of the day before, smoothly filling in uncom­fortable gaps in his own story with the achievements of his friends, building a legend.