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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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organized, as far as they dared, benevolent societies, unions, lodges, and social clubs. Above all, they cultivated the art of music, always a permitted avenue of achievement to the Negro, the one avenue where he can safely achieve sucess and prove himself the "superior* of the white man.
Cheap instruments, left behind by the Confederate Army bands, filled the pawnshops. Creole freedmen could afford to buy instruments and pay for music lessons as few other Southern Negroes could. Almost any Creole oldtimer can recall his childhood musical instruction—given in the strictest style of the French Academy. "I studied music for two years and then I chose my instrument,7' he will tell you pridefully. Even if this old gentleman has no technical knowledge of music, he has for it the passionate enthusiasm of a Harlemite for baseball and can bore you to death with the esoterica of forgotten bands and their stars.
New Orleans and adjoining parishes became a world of brass band and string orchestras. "The stomping grounds of all the best musicians in the world . . /' said Jelly Roll, ". . . very organization-minded." All these fraternities demanded bands for their balls and parades, and so, for an overblown half-century, New Orleans Negroes experimented with European instruments. A strong tradition took form, and was passed on to eager apprentices, continually enriched by cosmopolitan musical currents from everywhere, and yet maintaining its local character. French opera and popular song and Nea­politan music, African drumming (still to be heard at voodoo dances on Congo Square where Jelly was bora), Haitian rhythm and Cuban melody, native Creole satiric ditties, Amer­ican spirituals and blues, the ragtime and the popular music of the day—all these sounded side by side in the streets of New Orleans and blended in the rich gumbo of New Orleans music. The people made a fine human gallimaufry, too. Whites and Negroes lived as neighbors in the Creole quarter, and, as one lady remembers it, "It was fust over the fence whenever