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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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Jelly Roll Blues
you was really considered the tops. The man that brought it was the best musician in town and he hadn't been able to master this piece. Well, I had played this thing in recitals for years, but I started looking at it like I hadn't ever seen it be­fore. Then I started in. I got to a very fast passage where I also had to turn the page over. 1 couldn't turn the page, due to the fact I had to manipulate this passage so fast. I went right on. Audie Mathews grabbed the tune from in front of me and said, "Hell, don t be messing with this guy. This guy is a shark!"* I told them, "Boys, I been kidding you all along. I knew all these tunes anyhow. Just listen." Then 1 swung the Miserery and combined it with the Anvil Chorus.*
You £nd, though, that people act very savage in this world. From then on it was George Reynolds* object to try to crush me. He couldn't do this, but he made things so unpleasant that I finally took a job out in the German section of town. The manager wanted a band, so 1 got some men together, although there wasn't many to pick from—clarinet, trumpet, mandolin, drums, and myself. These were not hot men, but they were Negroes and they could read. They didn't play to suit me, but I told them if they played what I put down on paper, they would be playing exactly as I wanted. Then I arranged all the popular tunes of that time—I even made a jazz arrangement of Schnitzelbank—ajxd we made some pretty fair jazz for St. Louis in 1912.
St. Louis had been a great town for ragtime for years be­cause Stark and Company specialized in publishing Negro music. Among the composers the Starks published were: Scott Joplin (the greatest ragtime writer who ever lived and com­poser of Maple Leaf Rag), Tom Turpin, Louis Chauvin, Audie Mathews, and James Scott.** But St. Louis wasn't like New
* Time 5, Appendix II.
** For the record, Jelly Roll Imitated the piano style of some of these great old-timers. These remarkable imitations, tossed off casually twenty-five ^ years later, prove his phenomenal musical memory, for they faithfully mimic the style of these long-dead pianists, and can be checked with piano rolls of the period.