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As a composer of melodies, Jelly Roll Morton always remained a Creole, his right hand stroking the treble clef with the intense feeling of a guitarist, evoking bright arpeggios and langorous bursts of song. One of the tenderest of his Creole tunes he called Mama Nita; its theme is extremely sensual, yet gentle, reverent, and sad.
Anita Gonzalez, for whom he named the work, was a New Orleans Creole, older than Jelly, always well-to-do and, according to rumor, the person who paid for the diamond in his front tooth. Jelly Roll said, "Anita was the only woman 1 ever loved." The years have deprived her story of tenderness, and there emerges clearly the man for whom love was a threat and for whom women, especially those he loved, were almost enemies. . . .
Most everybody, said Anita Gonzalez, thinks I met Jelly out here in California, but the truth is I knew him from New Orleans. I didn't know at the time that he had any family because he said he was a foundling from a Catholic home. I had six brothers and I was the only girl. Jelly used to come over and see me, making like it was to visit my brothers. I never give him a second look because he wTasn?t decent. Used to play piano in a sporting-house.
When I met him again in California, 1 didn't know it was the same man. My brother, Dink Johnson, introduced us again and then we got together. For a while we were very happy.
1 bought a hotel here in Los Angeles, but Jelly was very jealous and that made things tough for me. Whenever the front