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Hello, Central, Give Me Doctor Jazz
visit. . . . I remember one thing he told me, "There's only two of yon left in the family down home. Stick together. Remember, yon must take the bitters with the sweet.'"
If any man ever lived who knew how to produce the sweet
out of lie bitters, it wTas Jelly Roll Morton. During these lonely
years in Chicago when he was trying to scrape together "that second thousand" so that he could send for Anita, he set down in notes the flower of his compositions, realizing at last the musical plans that had taken form in his mind in Storyville,
and Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hoi Peppers produced the finest recordings of New Orleans music ever made. There may be more deeply emotional and moving jazz records than Black Bottom Stomp, Doctor Jazz, Sidewalk Blues, Granpas Spells, Shreveport, Turtle Twist, but none more subtly designed and brilliantly executed, none with such a rich rhythmic and harmonic texture, none touched with such true fire. Here Jelly Roll, an equally remarkable composer, orchestral leader and pianist, purifies and extends New Orleans hot tradition, while strictly abiding by its canons. His records outnumber his published compositions almost two to one, but, with a half dozen exceptions, all are his own tunes, a recording career topped by no one in jazz except the redoubtable Ellington. From the very first session these discs exhibit a harmonic finesse and a rhythmic variety which outshines those of other leaders.
In these records Morton was faced with a two-fold problem, somewhat unfamiliar to composers in other fields. In order to speak his musical thoughts clearly, not only did he have to write the music and assemble men who could play together with the virtuosity and the imagination that his New Orleans compositions required, but he also had to lead this roomful of temperamental Creole virtuosos. In all these respects this loneliest of the lone wolves, this friendless, sick, and almost paranoid man measured up. The men who played with him on those early Victor recording sessions have never forgotten.
Omer Simeon, born in Chicago of New Orleans Creole