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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
One nigbt in 1927 Mister Jelly Roll strolled into the Plan­tation Club in Chicago and sat back sipping his champagne, absently watching the show. Something about one of the girls, an octoroon specialty dancer, caught his cruel eye. He signaled the manager. "Who's the little lady?" he asked. "O that's Mabel, Mister Morton/* "Well, yon tell Mabel Im gonna come back in here and kidnap her sometime/" and Jelly Roll paid his bill and rolled away down his lonesome road. But the little octoroon wouldn't let him alone.
Her name was Mabel Bertrand. Jelly Roll wrote a tune for her, querulously dedicating it to "Fussy Mabel/5 yet Mabel, of all who knew Morton, most appreciated and loved him. Bom in New Orleans, raised in a convent, she was courted by him at a night-club table, mighty uncomfortable because she was nine-tenths naked and knew exactly what this Creole man was thinking. She married him, although he had sworn he was too busy ever to marry. She lived with him for twelve years of poverty and defeat and refection; and, at the end, she still loved him.
These days her face is a little gray and puzzled, but, when she speaks of JeMy Roll, the vageeness departs and her strong and sweet Creole voice which does not complain, cries out of a welter of Harlem tenements—"! have been loved by a great man, I have watched a genius at work in the cold, lonely hours."
Perhaps this might sound melodramatic to plain, brave Mabel Morton, a good union member, a faithful Catholic, singled out, who knows whether by fortune or misfortune, as