Jelly Roll Morton
Music Roll Recordings and Rollography

MUSIC ROLL RECORDINGS AND ROLLOGRAPHY
Introduction to Rollography   The Vocalstyle Music Co.
Capitol Roll & Record Company   Q.R.S. Music Co.
Recordings and Discography
Library of Congress : Jelly Roll and Alan Lomax Narrative
Circle Limited Edition Set of 45 twelve-inch Records
Recommended Listening   References   Kudos

INTRODUCTION TO ROLLOGRAPHY

Jelly Roll Morton referred to his music roll recording activities on two separate occasions.

In a hand-written reply to a questionnaire sent to him by Paul Eduard Miller in 1934, he wrote that he had “made piano rolls for QRS, American, Wurlitzer and others.”
[EJB 209]

In 1938 he told Alan Lomax: “Then on in Chicago, I cut piano rolls for the American, the Imperial, and the QRS Company. I don’t know what happened to all those piano rolls.” [MJR 298]

In addition to the listings below, readers are advised to consult the piano roll section in Laurie Wright’s “Mr. Jelly Lord,” compiled by leading piano roll authority Mike Montgomery. [MJL 5-11]

THE VOCALSTYLE MUSIC CO.

The Vocalstyle Music Co.
3rd Floor, 412 East 6th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

Recorded : early June 1924


Jelly Roll Morton (p).

Series

88-note Song Roll






88-note Song Roll






88-note Song Roll







88-note
Instrumental Roll


88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll


88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll





88-note
Instrumental Roll

Title

MR. JELLY LORD
(Blues)
by Melrose and Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        $1.00

TIN ROOF BLUES
(Blues)
by Melrose and King [sic]
1923 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        $1.00

TOM CAT BLUES
(Blues)
by Melrose and “Jelly Roll” Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by “Jelly Roll” Morton
11-24      $1.00


MAMANITA BLUES
+
(Blues)


LONDON BLUES
(Blues)
by Jelly Roll Morton
1923 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        .75

KING PORTOR [sic]
(A “Stomp”)
by Jelly Roll Morton
1923 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        .75

SHREVEPORT STOMP
(“Stomp”)
Ferd (Jelly Roll) Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by “Jelly Roll” Morton
9-24        .75

STRATFORD HUNTCH
(“Huntch”)
by Ferd (Jelly Roll) Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        .75

KANSAS CITY STOMP
+
(“Stomp”)


GRANDPA’S SPELLS
(One Step)
by (Ferd Jelly Roll) Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll Morton
9-24        .75

THE PEARLS

(Blues)
by “Jelly Roll” Morton
1924 Melrose Bros.
Played by Jelly Roll” Morton
11-24      .75

THE “JELLY ROLL” BLUES
(Blues)
by “Jelly Roll” Morton
1915 Will Rossiter
Played by “Jelly Roll” Morton
11-24      .75

NEW ORLEANS BLUES
+
(Blues)

Catalog No.    Released

12973            Sept. 1924






12974            Sept. 1924






12983            Nov. 1924







50478            —



50479            Sept. 1924






50480            Sept. 1924






50481            Sept. 1924






50485            Sept. 1924






50486            —



50487            Sept. 1924






50488            Nov. 1924






50505            Nov. 1924






50508            —


+ The above instrumental music rolls, MAMANITA BLUES (50478), KANSAS CITY STOMP (50486) and NEW ORLEANS BLUES (50508) are listed in an April 1926 Vocalstyle catalogue (page 81). They were presumably issued, but have yet to be discovered. [N]

  THE PEARLS (50488) remained undiscovered for 75 years until Karl Ellison found an original roll in 1999. It is listed in an April 1926 Vocalstyle catalogue (page 82). [N]

Additional titles, reported to have been recorded, were listed in The Music Trade Review, dated 14th June 1924 and The Music Trades, dated 21st June 1924. These include: Wolverine Blues — Alabama Nights — Chicago Breakdown and Any Ox. [MT]

Pianist and bandleader Edgar Hayes wrote to Mike Montgomery stating that he had made rolls for Vocalstyle and recalled that Morton came to Cincinnati and made rolls whilst there. [MJL 7]

Morton was in Richmond, Indiana, a distance of 65 miles from Cincinnati on 9th June 1924 to carry out a major piano solo recording session with the Gennett Recording Company.

In 1926 The Vocalstyle Music Co. was located at 1107-11 Jackson Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, with agencies at 34 W. 15th Street, New York City, New York and 137 Turk Street, San Francisco, California.

The Vocalstyle Music Co. ceased production in January 1928, and the Q.R.S. Music Co. purchased the company the following month.

CAPITOL ROLL & RECORD COMPANY

Capitol Roll & Record Company
721 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Recorded : c. Nov. 1925


Jelly Roll Morton (p).

Series

88-note Word Roll




Capitol A-Roll
selection 8


Capitol A-Roll
selection 2


88-note
Instrumental Roll






65-note A-Roll
selection 2
Title

SWEET MAN
(Fox Trot)
By “Jelly Roll” Morton
1925 By Leo Feist Inc.

SWEET MAN
(Fox Trot)


SOAP SUDS




Soap Suds

Phantom Fingers 20
(Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton)
(from Capitol A-999029-2)
Played By The Composer



Soap Suds
+

Catalog No.    Released

1334              Dec. 1925




2043              c. Dec 1925



(?)                 c. Dec 1925



PF-20            Sept. 1999







PF-19            Sept. 1999

The original catalog number is unknown, because the roll is missing the information. Musicologist and roll historian, Dr. Frank Himpsl has assigned the roll his own catalog number of A-999029 in order to keep track of its identity, when preparing reissues as noted below:

In September 1999, Frank Himpsl issued the single 88-note transcription roll PF-20 on his “Phantom Fingers” label. [J]

+ In September 1999, Frank Himpsl issued the entire 10-tune A-roll PF-19 in the original 6 perforations per inch format. [J]

Max Kortlander, owner of the Imperial Industrial Company, purchased the assets of the Capitol Roll & Record Company in 1933.

Q.R.S. MUSIC CO.

Q.R.S. Music Co.
306 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Recorded : c. Aug. 1926


Jelly Roll Morton (p).

Series

88-note Word Roll





88-note Word Roll





Automatic Roll
selection 3

Automatic Roll
selection 2

Imperial Songrecord
88-note Word Roll



Title

DEAD MAN BLUES
Blues Fox Trot
Played by “Jelly Roll” Morton
Melrose
10-26      1.00

MIDNIGHT MAMA
Blues Fox Trot
Played by “Jelly Roll” Morton
Melrose
10-26      1.00

DEAD MAN BLUES
Blues Fox Trot

MIDNIGHT MAMA
Blues Fox Trot

DEAD MAN BLUES
+
Blues Fox Trot
Melrose
Made in U.S.A.
7-27          .60
Catalog No.     Released

3674               Oct. 1926





3675               Oct. 1926





1468               (?) 1926


1282               (?) 1926


06515             July 1927




+ DEAD MAN BLUES, Imperial Songrecord catalog No. 06515, was reissued from the original Q.R.S. 3674 in July 1927.

Many roll collectors have suggested that J. Lawrence Cook may have created, or at least had a hand in the editing of the Q.R.S. Morton rolls listed above. Since Cook was based in New York for all of his working life, he had no involvement with the Morton rolls, which were recorded and edited in the Chicago factory.

In a letter to Mike Meddings, dated 2nd April 1975, responding to a direct question on the above, Cook wrote: “I never met Jelly Roll Morton in person, but I can tell you that, so far as I know, he made only one roll recording for Q.R.S. In my judgement he was a sloppy, ear-playing pianist. However, I think he deserved all of the fame he gained. This being because he definitely invented a certain style of jazz playing. I know this well, for I have transcribed quite a number of his record and band recordings for musicians wanting to study his style.” [JLC]

The following detailed information regarding the Q.R.S. Music Co. comes from California music roll collector Ed Sprankle: Q.R.S. were located at: 306 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois., 518 W. 55th Street, New York City, New York and 153 Kearney Street, San Francisco, California. This is based on the 1920 (complete to 9/1/19) massive roll catalog. [G]

1918 correspondence shows the 412 Fine Arts Building, Chicago address as executive offices. A 1921 stock offering shows the executive offices address as 11th Floor Kimball Building, Chicago. The stock offering shows factories in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Branches and Factory agencies were in: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Buffalo, New York; London, England; and Melbourne & Sydney, Australia. [G]

In 1931 Max Kortlander purchased the Q.R.S. Music Co. for $25,000 and changed the name to the Imperial Industrial Company.

There was another Imperial Player Roll Co., owned by the Cable Piano Co., who were located in Chicago, and they produced some noteworthy music rolls by Roy Bargy and Charley Straight.


The Chicago Defender

The Chicago Defender dated 27th November 1926

3674 — Dead Man Blues  
3675 — Midnight Mamma

RECORDING Q.R.S ARTISTS

           JELLY ROLL MORTON
           SID LANEY
           J. LAWRENCE COOK
                                LEMUEL

   CLARENCE WILLIAMS
   JAMES P. JOHNSON
   CLARENCE JOHNSON
FOWLER  [M]


REFERENCES

MJR

Mister Jelly Roll — Alan Lomax, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950. Page references are to the University of California Press 4th edition 2001, (Soft Cover) 344 pp.

MJL

Mr. Jelly Lord — Laurie Wright, Storyville Publications, Chigwell, Essex, 1980, 256 pp.

EJB

Paul Eduard Miller — Esquire’s Jazz Book, 1945, page 209.

MT

The Music Trades — VOCALSTYLE CO. COMPLETES “JELLY ROLL” MORTON SERIES, dated 21st June 1924, page 29. Courtesy of Mike Montgomery.

JLC

J. Lawrence Cookpage 1page 2 — Letter to Mike Meddings, 2nd April 1975.

G

Ed Sprankle — Letters and information to Mike Meddings, 31st March and 7th April 2001.

J

Dr. Frank Himpsl — Letter and information to Mike Meddings, 15th October 2001.

M

The Chicago Defender — Q.R.S. advert, dated 27th November 1926, page 6, column 5. Courtesy of Dr. Robert Pinsker.

N

Vocalstyle Catalogpage 81page 82 — Revised to April, 1926, inclusive. Courtesy of Ed Sprankle.

KUDOS


Prof. James Dapogny (USA)
Rob DeLand (USA)
Karl Ellison (USA)
John Farrell (UK)
Prof. Lawrence Gushee (USA)
Prof. Charles van Herbruggen (Belgium)
Mike Meddings (UK)
Michael Hill (Australia)
Dr. Frank Himpsl (USA)


Mike Montgomery (USA)
Dr. Robert Pinsker (USA)
Roger Richard (France)
Hal Smith (USA)
Horace Spear  M.D. (USA)
Ed Sprankle (USA)
Prof. Alan Wallace (USA)
Laurie Wright (UK)


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