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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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tleman sit down at the piano and play a very good piece of ragtime. This particular gentleman had short hair and 1 de­cided then that the instrument was good for a gentleman same as it was for a lady. I must have been about ten years old at the time.
I had already become a very efficient guitarist. In fact, I was known to be the best, until 1 met Bud Scott, one of the famous guitarists of this country, but, when I found out he was divid­ing with me my popularity, 1 decided to quit playing guitar and try the piano, which I did secretly. The only ones that knew was my family.
I tried under different teachers and I found that most of them was fakes those days. They couldn't read very much themselves. For example, a colored teacher I had, named Miss Moment—Miss Moment was no doubt the biggest ham of a teacher I've ever heard or seen since or before: she fooled me all the time. In those days the new tunes used to come out in the Sunday papers and it would be my desire to play those tunes correctly. When I would take these numbers and place them in front of Miss Moment, she would rattle them off like nobody's business and the third one she rattled off sounded about like the first one.
So I began to get wise and wouldn't take lessons any further. I demanded I would either go by myself and leam the best way I knew or be placed under an efficient teacher, which I was then placed under a teacher at St. Joseph's University, a Catholic college in the city of New Orleans. My denomination is Catholic which is how I came to leam under the Catholic tutelage, which was very efficient. Later I taken lessons from a well-known colored professor, who was considered very good, named Professor Nickerson. I tell you, things was driving along then.*
In my early youth I thought New Orleans was the whole world. I could speak only French at that time. I had been to
* The family isn't sure whether young Ferd left school after the eighth or the fourth grade.