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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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Somebody in there listening, hollered, "Hey, Winding Boy," says, "Hey, that sound like a tiger hollering."
"Yeah?" says young Morton, deserted son of that fast-living, trombone-playing contractor, Ed LaMenthe, "Yeah, I believe it does. Sounds just exactly like a tiger roaring. HOLD THAT TIGER!"
The left arm tromboned that roar out of the honkey-tonk up­right and then the right hand got away like a jack rabbit with the left beagling right behind to a full-band finale. And all his life Jelly Roll held a tiger by the tail.
In barrelhouse lingo "tiger" meant the lowest hand a man could draw in a poker game—seven high, deuce low, and with­out a pair, straight, or flush, It takes nerve to hold onto a tiger and bluff it to win, but Jelly Roll had the nerve to take the pot with blufi alone. He had learned some tricks from Sheep Eye, the gambler, as well as from Tony Jackson. All he had was the music of the Storyvilie bordellos—it was his tiger and he bet his life on it.
For Jelly Roll, jazz was not just music. It was Creole New Orleans; it was home and family; it was security and accept­ance; it was the path to wealth and glory; it was power. He spoke of it possessively ("I personally originated jazz in New Orleans in 1902"). He wished he had somehow copyrighted jazz and he groaned because he could not sue the white band­leaders who were making their fortunes with "my ideas/'
The facts justify Morton to some extent. Although he neither originated jazz nor "composed" Tiger Rag, he was the first true composer of jazz, not only an original, competent, and prolific creator, but an aggressive organizer and self-advertiser. Jazz­men often disliked him personally, but always respected his talent professionally. What Jelly Roll did was to absorb the complex currents of the music of his hometown and, very early, to set about organizing and ripening them into a system of music. His compositions were inventions in the New Orleans style, reflections of what a whole musical community had to say: His "band piano style" brought together on the keyboard