Click to enlarge photograph

Jelly-Roll Morton and His Orchestra
Studio #1 (possibly Studio #2), Trinity Baptist Church, 114 North 5th Street, Camden, New Jersey, July 1929

Shown left to right are:

Rod Rodriguez (p); Jelly Roll Morton (p); Barney Alexander (bj); George Baquet (cl)
William Laws (d); Harry Prather (bb); Walter Thomas (as); Charlie Irvis (tb)
Joe Thomas (ts); Boyd Rosser (tp); Walter Briscoe (tp); Paul Barnes (as)

The published photograph of “Jelly-Roll Morton and His Orchestra” from 1929 in Camden has, for many years, puzzled readers with a mysterious half-circular cut-out that has been touched-up around the area of the feet of Walter Thomas (as) and Joe Thomas (ts). This is most noticeable in the photograph reproduced in A Pictorial History of Jazz, page 64. [3]

The earliest known publication of this collage of three photographs, shown above, is on the back cover of the Belgian Music : Magazine International Du Jazz, issue No. 80, Vol. VIII, dated April 1932. [8A]

The head of Spanish jazz pianist Josť Mattas (centre right) partially covers the other two photographs. The upper photograph is of “Jelly-Roll Morton and His Orchestra” who were recording for Victor, while the lower one in the collage is Ray Noble’s “New Mayfair Dance Orchestra”, who were recording for His Master’s Voice. Ray Noble can be seen directing the orchestra, and vocalist Al Bowlly is at the microphone.

Presently, (July 2009) no earlier publication of a photograph of Jelly Roll Morton as a band musician is known.

For the iconography page I originally used a clipping found in a Dutch collector’s pre-war scrapbook, and it shows the half circle cut-out at the bottom of the Morton orchestra photograph. This was to accommodate for the head of Spanish jazz pianist Josť Mattas. The Morton orchestra photograph has also been levelled. [CO] When I hinted to Belgian collector Leon Dierckx where it might stem from, he immediately found it, for which I would like to thank him. [8]

A print in Mr. Jelly Lord (1980) by Laurie Wright, page 68, shows several touch-ups. A print in Oh, Mister Jelly (1999) edited by William Russell, page 463, is clipped, leaving out Rod Rodriguez, but might stem from an original print.

courtesy of Ate van Delden

© 2009 Ate van Delden Collection

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