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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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riched a Berlin cabaret, pursuing his star and ripening into one of the notable virtuosos of our time—the poet of jazz. Today this quiet, gray-haired man plays with the passion of a young man in love with love and life, lending the clear gold of New Orleans style to popular ballads or improvising new melodies in the Creole idiom. His brother, Dr. Bechet, after twenty-seven years, is still astonished at Sidney's talent.
"Baquet and all them helped my brother/' he said. "But Sidney was just naturally gifted. He was an entertainment all by himself. Folks used to say, 'Who is that playing yonder?' And it was Sidney doing all lands of things with the clarinet to soothe himself, playing over whatever his mind was saying." The Doctor broke off and looked at me with his warm and agonized smile.
"Now 111 tell you," he said, suddenly casting aside Creole prejudice," a person have to go through all that rough stuff like Sidney went through to play music like him. You have to play with all varieties of people. Some of the Creole musicians didn't like the idea of mixing up with the—well, with the rougher class, and so they never went too far. You see, Picou— Picon's a very good clarinet, but he ain't hot. That's because he wouldn't mix so much.
"You have to play real hard when you play for Negroes. You got to go some, if you want to avoid their criticism. You got to come up to their mark, you understand? If you do, you get that drive. Bolden had it. Bunk had it. Manuel Perez, the best ragtime Creole trumpet, he didn't have it.
"See, thees hot people they play like they killing themselves, you understand? That's the kind of effort that Louis Armstrong and Freddy Keppard put in there. If you want to hit the high notes those boys hit, brother, you got to work for that. Of course, Sidney puts it in with ease, but Sidney's different from all the rest." (Jelly Roll also "put it in with ease." He liked to play with other musicians who could put it in with ease.)
"Now, 111 tell you another thing," Dr. Bechet concluded. "When the settled Creole folks first heard this jazz, they passed