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paused and smiled, "of all his mother s children, he loved Jelly Roll the best. I remember one incident at the Melrose Music House. Jelly Roll was playing one of his latest compositions—a very good number—and he look over at Melrose and ask him, say, 'How yon like that one?'
"So Melrose say, 'That's good, Jelly/
" 'Good, Hell/ Jelly Roll say, That's perfect!' *
"About that time another guy walked in; he knew Jelly good, wanted to get his kicks and said, *Je% Roll, they tell me you're the best stomp player in town/
"And Jelly Roll tells him, The best in town—I'm the best in the world!' Funny part, Jely was the best wre had, even greater than Oliver in those years of the 20's, I'd say, but talk Mke that made him unpopular."
If Jelly's Creole swagger bothered his familiar it made Southerners like Melrose a shade more than uncomfortable. As dry-spoken Walter expressed it, "He was a poor salesman for himself. A fine guy, but he talked too much." So both the brothers Melrose deprecated Jely even as they praised him; and they praised him in such contradictory ways that they migbt have been describing two musicians. Lester, the completely unmusical blues magnate, described Jely Roil as a superior folk-artist with a low level of musical literacy.
T believe be overshadowed Oliver in his time," said Lester. "Old Jelly was a good orchestra man, but he couldn't write music; we had to have an arranger take down his stuff. Jelly led the way on account of his piano, the best at the time we ever heard, and we heard them all. No piano player could touch him in his years from 1923 through 1928. Then he left us and went to New York, got around those high-faiutin guys and got away from his original way of playing." Actually Jellyys piano style never changed basically during his whole career, except that in later years it became simpler and closer to the style of the folk blues.
More musical than Lester, Walter Melrose has written off his sense of obligation to Morton in another way. According to