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
Appendix One
Frog4-rnore was composed in 1918 or earlier. At any rate it seems to have been named after a contortionist in a minstrel show with which Jelly Roll toured. This gentleman, who was billed as Frog-i-more, wore a frog costume, and it is likely that Jelly Roll actually played this melody for Frog-i-more s nightly writhings. Jelly Roll wrote the tune down in 1918 in California and his manuscript of the main theme is here­with reproduced with permission of Tempo-Music (copyright owners) as a supplement to William Russell's discussion of the Morton recording.
Comparison of the manuscript with the record shows how Morton played more notes than he usually bothered to trans-scribe on paper. Nevertheless, examination of this early manu­script discloses a serious composer at work. Says William Rus­sell, most learned of jazz critics . . .
Jelly Roll had a more formal musical training and back­ground than many New Orleans musicians. Perhaps this fact is reflected in the formal construction of his composi­tions. At times the close-knit design is marked by an econ­omy of means that amounts to understatement. Frog-i-more follows the usual form of Morton s stomps—introduction, a short three-part song form, and a trio section. A definite musical idea is used for each new part. Since the opening idea of the first strain—an ascending succession of seventh chords—does not immediately establish the tonality, a curi­ous effect of an extension of the introduction is created. The contrasting second strain is unusually forceful, employ­ing a repeated note motive and powerful left-hand bass fig­ures in Jelly's full two-handed style. After a modified return of the first strain a characteristic Morton trill bridges over to the trio.
To find a more resourceful imagination and greater skill in melodic variation than Jelly Roll Morton possessed, one can go only to Bunk Johnson. Jelly took great pride in his "improvisations." I was aware that Jelly Roll was not an unqualified admirer of Louis Armstrong, but being par­ticularly an Armstrong fanatic and unable to understand his lack of enthusiasm, I always avoided any argument whenever Jelly brought up the subject of Armstrong. How-