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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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Sweet, Soft* Plenty Rhythm
decided that was a mistake and I must have been right, be-cause everybody grabbed my style. I thought that accurate tempo would be the right tempo for any tune. Regardless to any tempo you might set, especially if it was meant for a dance tune, you ought to end up in that same tempo. So I found that the slow tunes, especially the medium slow tunes, did more for the development of jazz than any other type5 due to the fact that you could always hit a note twice in such a tune, ^hen ordinarily you could only hit it once, which gave the music a very good flavor.
&bout harmony, my theory is never to discard the melody. Always have a melody going some kind of way against a back­ground of perfect harmony with plenty of riffs—meaning fig­ures. A riff is something that gives an orchestra a great back­ground and is the main idea in playing jazz. No jazz piano player can really play good jazz unless they try to give an imitation of a band, that is, by providing a basis of riffs. I've seen riffs blundered up so many times it has give me heart failure, because most of these modern guys don't regard the harmony or the rules of the system of music at all. They just play anything, their main idea being to keep the bass going. They think by keeping the bass going and getting a set rhythm, they are doing the right thing, which is wrong. Of all the pianists today, I know of only one that has a tendency to be on the right track and that's Bob Zurke of the Bob Crosby Band. Far as the rest of them, all I can see is ragtime pianists in a very fine form.
Now the riff is what we call a foundation, like something that you walk on. It's standard. But without breaks and without clean breaks and without beautiful ideas in breaks, you don't even need to think about doing anything else, you haven't got a jazz band and you can't play jazz. Even if a tune haven't got a break in it, it's always necessary to arrange some kind of a spot to make a break.
A break, itself, is like a musical surprise which didn't come in until I originated the idea of jazz, as I told you. We New