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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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No matter how tough they might pretend to be, this cold­blooded world must have deeply wounded the young musi­cians who were sensitive enough to create jazz. "Poor Alfred Wilson, he smoked so much dope till he died . . . Tony Jackson, lie drank himself to death ... Freddie Keppard, the damn fool, he was a hog for liquor and it Mlled him . . . Buddy Bolden blew his brains out through a trumpet and died in the insane asylum , . . I just don t like to be out after dark any more' — these epitaphs could be many times multiplied.
Ferdinand Morton, however, thrived. He eschewed the vices of his associates and cultivated their business acumen. He learned to drink moderately. And he worked hard. If, by playing the lowdown blues, Morton could pick up a dollar Tony Jackson scorned, he was ready to oblige. If the white customers wanted a laugh, he had ready "some sensational trick and surprise effects." Whatever he played, however, it had to be good and it had to be Morton. He had nothing but scorn for brain pickers and imitators.
The musical currents of Uptown and Downtown came to­gether, joined in Morton's piano. He retained his Creole tech­nique and, unabashed by the hot playing of the black Ameri­cans, hiis composer's mind brought all the voices of the band under the control of his two perfect piano hands. Outcast and intellectual, he felt none of the finicky reservations and fears of the mulatto, nor suffered from the undisciplined anger and melanchloy of the rejected blacks. Creole finesse and American release were of equal value to him. As his compositions began to flower within him alongside the boundless ambitions of youth, lie became the master of New Orleans music. Others it mastered, but Morton, the cool young man with plans and a profound sense of form, had a firm hold on his tiger.
"Jelly Roll played piano all night and practiced all day. . . ♦ He never stopped running, always on the go, couldn't seem to rest one place more than a few days • . . He was young, but he was the best pianist we had, . ♦ ."
At nineteen young Ferdinand was restless. He could not be