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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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The Boys in the Bands
the polyphonic weave of voices in Storyville dance bands; his powerful left hand, with its constantly shifting riffs, reflected the polyrhythmic style of those bands; so, although it suited Jelly Roll to feel that he walked alone, actually a generation of inspired New Orleans musicians always marched by his side. To understand Jelly Roll and jazz, then, one must know his comrades in music—his generation. His story—that jazz was the creation of a cathouse pianist—has the virtue of simplicity, but otherwise it presents enigmas. Babies are not bom in brothels. Jelly's tiger, whose roar was heard round the world* is not just come-on music. The flames that illumine jazz are not the cold red lights of the tenderloin. . . . But the more one examined Jelly's own story, the deeper the mysteries be* came. He had lost his roots somewhere in those elegant sporting houses. Where could those roots, those fertile beginnings be found 8 . . ?
On a May afternoon down in New Orleans on a sunny corner of St. Antoine Street. , . . An old man stood there, bald, toothless, going on eighty, but every inch of his six feet erect—a red-hot bass player, seventy-nine years old, a proud Creole.
"Albert Glenny, painter by trade. Pleased to make your ac­quaintance, Mr. Lomax.",
He looked at me shyly, squinting out of his hooded eyes. I held the work-hardened, bass-toughened, old hand, and asked about Jelly Roll. "Well, I heard of him, but I never seen him that I remember," said Glenny, "That boy come along in late years."
Glenny, the oldest living hot jazzman, went wool-gathering about early Creole musicians. I had difficulty in traveling along with his Creole-thickened English, but there was one proudly descriptive phrase that kept ringing through— 'painter by trade . . . plasterer by trade . . . cigarmaker by trade." Apparently the Creole musician was also a craftsman. Glenny*s conversa­tion was a trade directory—a trade directory of the great names in New Orleans hot jazz.