Jelly Roll Morton
Posthumous Articles

Louis Armstrong  ·  Paul Barbarin  ·  Rudi Blesh  ·  Roy J. Carew
Warren “Baby” Dodds  ·  Bob Greene  ·  W.C. Handy  ·  George Hoefer
Harold C. Hopkins  ·  Ken Hulsizer  ·  Max Jones  ·  George W. Kay
Orrin Keepnews  ·  Karl Kramer  ·  Floyd Levin  ·  John Lucas  ·  Phil Pastras
Roger Richard  ·  William Russell  ·  Omer Simeon  ·  Charles Edward Smith
Harrison Smith  ·  Frederick J. Spencer M.D.  ·  Johnny St. Cyr
Butch Thompson  ·  Laurie Wright  ·  Miscellaneous Articles  ·  Kudos

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from The New York Sunday Times, dated Sunday, 18th June 1950, section F, page 3, column 1 and page 19, column 1.

The New York Times

Stomping Piano Man

By Alan Lomax.

336 pp. New York: Duell Sloan & Pearce. $3.50.


JUST finished reading the Story of Jelly Roll Morton, a great piano man of Storyville. I think it is one of the finest stories ever written on early New Orleans Jazz, and I, being a personal friend of Jelly Roll, you know that story thrills me, of his life.

I didn’t meet Jelly Roll until the early Twenties in Chicago, as he left New Orleans way before I got to play music — the year of 1906, and he lived in Los Angeles, California and stayed there practically all his life, till the Twenties, when he started recording around Chicago, and there he wrote so many stomps (he called them) especially the “King Porter Stomp” and “Grandpa’s Spells,” and there’s another I recorded for him — “Wolverine Blues,” Walter Winchell even mentioned it as a fine tune and a fine recording.

Jelly Roll Morton had a wonderful sense of humor. You could tell he was a man who knew his instrument very well, and anyone that didn’t believe it — he’d prove it to them! You know, he’d love to gather a lot of musicians around on the corner and have little cute arguments about music — yeah! And he was talkin’ with some musicians one day, about his ability on the piano, and some little guy comes up and asks him — he said “Jelly, you must be the best piano player in town.”

And Jelly answered by saying, “In town???? In the world!” Heh heh.

And I admired that gold tooth he had with the diamond in it. Heh heh.

A lot of things he said pertaining to Storyville I remembered even after I left New Orleans. He would play in Lulu

(Continued on Page 19)

When Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, regarded by the aficionados as the king of all jazz trumpet players and “hot” vocalists, was asked to review “Mr. Jelly Roll,” he replied, “Glad to do. He was my boy.”

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

(Continued from Page 3)

Stomping Piano Man

White’s sporting house, and all the best places where colored musicians could not play — so quite naturally he made more money and had more than the average musician that was in Storyville, and he did wear the beat clothes.

Now I never did hear Jelly Roll in a band. He always played either by himself or had his own combination for recordings. So when he got to Chicago (staying in California, I personally think, set him back twenty years or more) he ran into “awful” good piano players, such as Earl Hines, Teddy Weatherford (that piano man played in the symphony orchestra at the Vendome Theatre, under the direction of Erskine Tate). Then, after I left Chicago I didn’t see Jelly Roll again till practically five years, and then I saw him on Seventh Avenue with the same crowd — telling them how good he is. But he was always making good records and writing those good stomps (that’s what they call them, but they’re tunes). Then I didn’t see him for five years.

Just before he died, he was the picture of health and still had that spirit. No one ever thought he was ill because he always had that Jolly spirit and everyone was always lookin’ for him on the corner — because they knew they’d always get a boot out of him. Then, the last I heard of Jelly, the last tune he wrote that went big for a while was “Grandpa’s Spells.”

So Jelly is gone now, and there are hundreds of musicians who are sorry that happened because he was really a stimulant to them.

Now that his book has come out everybody’s gonna get one, and as for me — I’m gonna buy a book and keep the one I already have. Here’s wishing all the success in the world to “Mr. Jelly Roll.”

Paige van Vorst, editor of JazzBeat Magazine, the house magazine of Jazzology, has kindly granted permission to publish the following article titled: “Paul Barbarin Talks About Jelly Roll” as told by Paul Barbarin in December 1969. The article was published in JazzBeat Magazine, dated Spring 1992, Vol. 3, No. 4, pages 5—6. Special thanks to Ate van Delden.

The JazzBeat Magazine

Paul Barbarin Talks About Jelly Roll

I first heard of Jelly — well, I was very young when I went into the District, the red-light district, to take Mr. Cottrell’s place in Manuel Perez’s band. We were at Rice’s Cabaret, which was at Marais and Iberville streets. Across the street was Pete Lala’s, where Joe Oliver had the band, and where they also had entertainers such as Mack & Mack, who were quite well along in years by this time. A couple of times I took Henry Zeno’s place at Lala’s, which was a great joint. I was just a boy then, and I had to put on long trousers so I could play the job. That is when I first heard about Jelly working on Basin Street, at Lulu White’s house. But I never met him then. I couldn’t stay out late in New Orleans and bum around a saloon like the other guys ’cause I was too young. I can very much recall that some guys called him “Winin’ Boy.“

I met Jelly Roll in Chicago. I went there in 1917 and worked in the stockyards. The next year, when I was playing drums at the Royal Garden with Eddie Vincent’s band, they wanted to send to New Orleans for a cornet player. Since I’d come from New Orleans lately, they asked me. I mentioned my friend Buddie Petit, but he never did come to Chicago. So then I mentioned Joe Oliver. I say, “Get Buckeye.” (We called him Buckeye Joe cause of that cataract in one eye.)

We had heard him in brass bands and he could really blow. So Joe and Jimmie Noone came up at the same time. I’ll never forget the first number we rehearsed that night — Darktown Strutters’ Ball. We rehearsed just a few other numbers and they said everything was all right. “We’ll just call ’em down and play ’em.” Jimmie Noone — oh he was great! I never heard anyone finger a clarinet like he did when he played I Know That You Know — and he had little bitty fingers.

The Royal Garden was a dollar to come in, and they’d have a thousand people nightly. The people had come up to Chicago from all over the South, and a lot of them were in there every night. Around twelve o’clock they’d start playing the blues, and that first night they played a blues that I remember the Oliver-Ory band, with Johnny Dodds, playing at Economy Hall in New Orleans. It went, “I ain’t rough, and I don’t fight.” — they put them words in later on. Oliver had a little bitty mute, the size of a light bulb, and Joe was leaning over the bandstand playing to the people, and he took that little mute and started talking and I mean talking — on his horn! The man was great that night, hot dog! Boy, and the people just started screaming and threw their hats in their (the air.)

So it was in Chicago, while I was working with Oliver, that I actually met Jelly Roll for the first time. It was at Clarence Williams’ music store on South State Street, between 34th and 35th streets, almost across from the Grand Theatre. One of Jelly Roll’s tunes that we used to play with Jimmie Noone in Oliver’s band at the Royal Garden was called Queen of Spades. I’ve never seen or heard of this tune since those days.

A lot of other guys came up from New Orleans at that time, and some entertainers came up with the jazz bands. One band worked at Shaw’s Deluxe Club. They had Sugar Johnny, Lawrence Duhe, Ed Garland, and Roy Palmer. That guy was the greatest, to me. I don’t see where any other trombone player was greater than Roy, and I’m saying a whole lot. They alternated those two brothers, Minor and Baby “Tubby” Hall, on drums. Later they put Sidney Bechet in the band. I knew Sidney before he started on clarinet, when he was playing a tin flute by a pressing shop on Burgundy Street. Then the next thing you know he had a clarinet and was already great.

Jelly wasn’t always working steady in Chicago. I thought he was mostly a gambler. He used to go down to the Union, Local 208 on South State Street, and gamble there. He’d lose maybe four or five hundred dollars. Then when he needed money, he’d go down to Melrose, who published his tunes. And he made some records that were good. Yeah, that was his downfall — easy come, easy go. Also Jelly and all the big shots would go and gamble at the Pioneer Club, at State and 35th streets, across from the Deluxe. But Jelly would most likely go down to the Union to shoot dice. Jelly was also a good pool player, and he used to tie up with a great pool shark of the day — I don’t recall the guy’s name, but he was very popular.

After I went to New York to play with King Oliver and Luis Russell, I made some records with Jelly. In Chicago I had wanted to record with him so bad I didn’t know what to do, but he used the drummers Andrew Hilaire and Baby Dodds mostly. In New York, at a time when Luis Russell wasn’t doing anything, and Jelly needed a drummer, I worked with him for about two weeks. It was the Rose Danceland, upstairs at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue, same side of the street as the Apollo Theatre. It was a jitney dance place. They had a lot of his photos in the vestibule as you went upstairs — Jelly Roll Morton. We played a lot of his own compositions, like Wolverine, and they had a lot of published orchestrations there.

Jelly was an easy man to get along with. He was an all right guy, and that man could compose! I’d say he talked a lot, if you know what I mean; I think he talked himself out of that job at the Rose Danceland. We were very good friends at that time. He liked me, and I’d sit down and chat with him often. He was a good-natured guy — a great man.

As I said, he talked a lot, and of course the guys in New York, gave him hell! Jelly’d brag so much about New Orleans they’d get mad about it because the guys that came up from New Orleans, all of them could play — play jazz. The New York guys couldn’t play that kind of music! They were modern — they tried to play a modern style, you see what I mean? So they got mad at Jelly and roasted him. He’d tell them, he’d say, “I’m the greatest — the greatest piano player!” Sometimes he’d play on the piano in the Rhythm Club, at 132nd Street. He’d get at the piano and he’d say, “Listen to this!” And he was really playing, and he was right too. But all the New York cats would get on him and roast him and get on his nerves, Chick Webb, especially, would make him hot.

In New York I finally made some records with Jelly when be recorded with Wilton Crawley. The guys were mostly from the Luis Russell band. Once while we were recording, Crawley was playing his clarinet his false teeth fell out to the floor and made so much noise the man in the control room stopped the record. The guys all started laughing, and it must have been ten minutes before any of them could play again. We had no special rehearsals for the recordings I made with Jelly. We went right to the studio (Victor’s on 24th Street in New York) and played; that’s all. Run over the tune once and, “All right, let’s go, take one.”
(see footnote below)

After I left Louis Armstrong’s band and Jelly came back to New York, I rehearsed with his band (in 1939). The rehearsals were right in his apartment in Mamie Wright’s house (207 West 131st Street). Jelly’s wife Mabel was living there. We rehearsed in a big room with a grand piano. Things were really tough about that time. He was having a hard time — a great man like that — trying to get a break. If we’d ’ve got a job I’d have stayed around, but not working, I was going to have to go back home to New Orleans.

Half the time the guys didn’t come to rehearsal, oh, maybe one or two, and we couldn’t do much with one or two. But he would try to run over the manuscripts he had, and there were piano copies of some published tunes. There were some beautiful numbers. Sweet Substitute was one we rehearsed at that time. And we really had a good time when we rehearsed with the full band. It wasn’t a big band, but a jazz band like he had in Chicago, that type of sound — one trumpet, one clarinet, one trombone. He was sure he could get a job and keep the guys together, but they’d drift off and I don’t know what happened to them — they probably got other jobs. I was willing to stay on if we could get regular work, but my expenses were going on and I couldn’t hang around with nothing happening. So after a few weeks I had to go home to New Orleans.

Jelly didn’t dress up much at the rehearsals. It was summer time and he was in shirt sleeves. When I knew him in Chicago he was always up-to-date. He was Jelly Roll Morton, and he always had a powerful ring — that and a powerful stickpin. I guess he used to keep those to pawn if he needed something.

Jelly’s piano playing impressed me a whole lot. What I especially liked about it, he had a nice count (beat). He had a good left hand, and everything he played was understandable. I enjoyed playing with him, and enjoyed hearing him.

I can tell you that Jelly Roll is a hundred in my book. I’m still crazy about all his tunes, every one of his compositions. I don’t care what they say about him — that he boasted too much. A lot of guys say he talked himself into a job and then he’d talk himself out of the job, but he moved all the time. All I can tell you, to add it all up, is that the man was the most!

New Orleans
December 4, 1969

Note: The article describes the studio location as (Victor’s on 24th Street in New York). However, the Victor recording sheet indicates that the Wilton Crawley recording session, mentioned by Paul Barbarin, took place at the RCA Victor Company, Inc., Liederkranz Hall, 111 East 58th Street, New York.

Note: See also Hal Smith’s essay of Paul Adolph Barbarin accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Michael Hill sends the following article from The Jazz Record magazine, dated June 1947, No. 56, pages 24—25.

The Jazz Record

Jelly Roll Morton’s
Washington Documentary

By Rudi Blesh

Most jazz lovers know of the recording sessions by Jelly Morton for the Folk Archives of the Library of Congress in Washington. These sessions, held in 1938 in the Coolidge Auditorium, were conceived and supervised by Alan Lomax. For several weeks Jelly played, talked and sang, pouring out his nostalgic memories, his theories of jazz and his personal reminiscences, interrupting from time to time as he felt the inspiration, to play definitive versions of many of his own compositions. His talking, of course, was music too, and was always accompanied underneath by his softly rhythmic and inventive piano chording. It is poetically appropriate that Mr. Jelly Lord should have written his autobiography in the unforgettable tones of his voice and his piano.

The more than one hundred twelve-inch sides that resulted from these sessions form an unparalleled documentation of the life, times, and creative work of a great artist. They form, too, an unequaled contemporary chronicle of an art movement as seen from within by one of its greatest figures.

It is little wonder that these records, made only nine years ago and three years before Morton’s death, have already become almost a legend. Few jazz lovers have heard all of these, sides (which have never been issued), and by far the majority have never heard any of them yet, reports about them spread, reports that they are the finest recording ever done by one of the greatest men of jazz.

So it is little wonder that many attempts were made to secure the public release of these priceless records. So many companies and so many individuals had already made the attempt that it looked, a year ago, as if this music might never see the light. The records were locked up in the Archives, apparently permanently and, for the last several years, could not be heard even in the Library.

It is not necessary at this time to go into the difficulties that barred the release, although, it must be he admitted, they seemed insurmountable. Kenneth Bright, Field Director of CIRCLE, Harriet Janis, and the writer had determined, however, to try to do the impossible. We were agreed that the cultural importance of this material made the most patient and protracted efforts mandatory. Bright personally conducted the long and difficult negotiations that resulted finally in an exclusive arrangement for CIRCLE to issue the long-awaited records.

The series that Jelly left on wax in Washington nine years ago should, we strongly feel, be issued in as complete a form as possible. The historical and sociological aspect of these discs as documents of the American scene from 1895 to 1915, and their intrinsic musical importance far transcend the specialized field of jazz appreciation. The series belongs besides in jazz collections — in libraries, musical conservatories and universities everywhere.

So this summer will see the release of the first albums of a limited edition of the Morton series. This edition, complete except for some half-dozen unissuable sides, will require about a year. It is planned that the sets will he available on subscription only.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from The Jazz Record magazine, dated November 1947, No. 60, pages 17—18.

The Jazz Record

An Open Letter to Jazz Record Readers

NOTE: The editors of JAZZ RECORD have received a number of letters regarding the issue of the Jelly Roll Morton set by fellow editor Rudi Blesh. A few of these letters are critical in tone, the criticism resolving itself into three main points: 1. How did CIRCLE obtain the rights? 2. The issuance in complete sets only. 3. The sets are considered high priced.

Considering the Morton issue of such great importance we felt that Blesh should personally answer these objections. His letter follows:

CIRCLE secured the rights to the historical Morton records not from the Library of Congress but from the Morton Estate itself, in which the rights are vested. All our dealings to effect the issue were, therefore, with the Estate.

Before his death, and for understandable reasons, Jelly Roll Morton blacklisted a number of companies and individuals who were never to have the rights to these records. It is for this reason so many years passed before permission was granted. CIRCLE was the twelfth applicant. The negotiations in California with Mr. Hugh Macbeth, Jelly’s executor and long-time friend, were carried out most ably by CIRCLE field director, Mr. Kenneth Lloyd Bright.

Mr. Macbeth made it clear that the rights were being granted us because CIRCLE would publish all of the issuable records in a dignified, uncommercial manner commensurate with the genius of Morton himself. Thus, posthumously, Morton would receive, from his greatest single recording feat, the recognition largely denied him during his lifetime.

The contracts when drawn up, were approved in customary legal manner by the California courts.

Beyond, the desire of the Estate to issue complete sets there was our own clear perception of the great cultural and historical importance and scope of the series as a whole. How was a complete issue to be effected? Obviously only in a limited edition, inasmuch as the market for a set of forty-five 12" records is naturally limited. Had we chosen to issue a few best sellers from the series on cheap material at popular prices and thus milk the market we might have had a quick and easy profit. Then collectors everywhere would have a real complaint. Because, undoubtedly, the whole series never would be or could be issued thereafter. A few more years and the originals in Washington would deteriorate and this priceless musical contribution would be lost forever.

Few collectors have any idea of the heavy initial expense of dubbing, engineering, processing, and pressing a set of forty-five large records. And this does not include the generous royalties to be paid the Estate for each record sold. When these costs have to be absorbed over an issue of a few hundred sets it is, frankly, folly from a commercial point of view.

Now, just how expensive to the collector is the set? Actually, deducting costs of taxes, packing, mailing, and albums, each record costs approximately $2.10. Ordinary 12" shellac records sell for $1.50. No jazz records have ever appeared on the heavy pure quality of vinylite we are using. There is a wide belief that vinylite does not wear well. This impression arose from the issuance of certain jazz records on an inferior, mixed (not pure) plastic. Fine vinylite is almost mandatory for these piano and vocal records because of its fine surface and suppression of surface noise.

In plain fact, these complete sets, limited as they will be in number, pressed from the finest material, and containing some of the very greatest music ever put on wax, are a remarkably sound investment that no jazz collector can afford to ignore.

To help collectors to secure this set, which is a complete jazz collection in itself, we instituted periodic releases to take fifteen months for the complete issue, with instalment payments. We have also just set up a students’ plan of still easier payments to assure that these great records will be available in permanent form to all jazz followers.

We on CIRCLE are well aware that the Morton sets are no big profit-making venture. We feel that they area responsibility we owe to the cause of jazz. By the time this letter appears in print, the first two albums will have been released. They will assuredly speak for themselves.


Roger Richard sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated October 1955, Vol. 8, No. 10.

Jazz Journal

The Baby Dodds Story

The Red Hot Peppers

John and I also made records with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. On all the jobs with Jelly Roll it was he who picked the men for the session. He went around himself and got the men he wanted to record with him. We weren’t a regular band but — like Louis’ Hot Seven — only a recording outfit. Sometimes the various men in the band wouldn’t see each other for months. But when Jelly Roll gave us a ring we met for rehearsal and we all knew what was expected of us. Of course we all knew each other from New Orleans but those record sessions were the only times we all got together to play music. But there was a fine spirit in that group and I enjoyed working with Jelly Roll immensely. We were always happy to see each other in the outfit and to sit down and talk over what had happened since we last got together.

At rehearsal Jelly Roll Morton used to work on each and every number until it satisfied him. Everybody had to do just what Jelly wanted him to do. During rehearsals he would say, “Now that’s just the way I want it on the recording,” and he meant just that. We used his original numbers and he always explained what it was all about and played a synopsis of it on the piano. Sometimes we had music and he would mark with a pencil those places which he wanted to stand out in a number. It was different from recording with Louis. Jelly didn’t leave much leeway for the individual musician. You did what Jelly Roll wanted you to do, no more and no less. And his own playing was remarkable and kept us in good spirits. He wasn’t fussy, but he was positive. He knew what he wanted and he would get the men he knew could produce it. But Jelly wasn’t a man to get angry. I never saw him upset and he didn’t raise his voice at any time. He wasn’t hard to please and after making. a record he would let us know when he was pleased with it.

Although Jelly used to work out all the different parts himself, he often gave us something extra to do, some little novelty or something. When we made the Jungle Blues he wanted a gong effect and I think I used a large cymbal and a mallet to produce the effect he wanted. One number that was pretty complicated for me was Jelly’s Billy Goat Stomp. There were places in that where the vocalist made a noise like a billy goat and I had to do something else on the drums at the same time. It was in Spanish rhythm like so many of the numbers used to be played in New Orleans. I used the cymbal and soft mallet on that number and also the Chinese tom-tom. Another tricky one was the Hyena Stomp. It took quite a bit of rehearsing on some of those to get just what Jelly wanted but he told us what he expected and we would do our best to get the right effect. I was very versatile then and picked up the idea when Jelly played it on the piano. He was pleased with John’s playing and with my drumming. And the records we made with Jelly were under the best of recording conditions. They were recorded in the Chicago Victor studio on Oak Street near Michigan Avenue, and the accoustics (sic) there were very good. It was one of the best studios I ever worked in.

Besides making records with Jelly’s band John and I also made trio records with him. They were also Jelly Roll’s tunes and most of them he had previously recorded as piano solos. He added the clarinet and drum parts but he didn’t want these other instruments to stand out. He just wanted to feel us, not to hear us. Because he wanted the drum so very soft I used brushes on Mr. Jelly Lord. I didn’t like brushes at any time but I asked him if he wanted me to use them and he said “yes.” So I played the whole number with brushes instead of sticks. On the same number he wanted John to play in the low register, and that’s the way he played it. It wasn’t John’s version but rather the way Jelly wanted him to play. On the Wolverine Blues I decided to try using my Chinese tom-tom. I figured it would change the beat yet still sound good, and Jelly left it in the record.

When he made those trio recordings Jelly patted his foot to keep his tempo. He was so determined about his time that he stamped his foot. It was his tempo but if we followed it we would be off and of course he didn’t like that. Once the technician said that Jelly stamped his foot so loud it sounded like two bass drums. In order to keep it from the recording they had a little mattress made, about eight inches square, which they put under his foot so he could stamp all he wanted to and yet not be heard. The trio idea was Jelly’s and it was something new for records. It was through this trio of Jelly, John and I that a lot of people got the idea and jazz trios became a popular thing.

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the article titled: “JELLY ROLL” by Robert S. Greene. This full-scale article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated March—April 1955, Vol. 6, Nos. 3 & 4, pages 1 and 3—4. Special thanks to Don Marquis, Sonny McGown and Bob Greene.

by Robert S. Greene

International jazz pianist Bob Greene sends the following outstanding article titled: “A Memory of Roy Carew” that pays tribute to Roy Carew. Bob, founder of the legendary “World of Jelly Roll Morton” band, delighted audiences during the 1970s and 80s with re-creations of tunes by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. The original band featured Ernie Carson (c); Ephraim Resnick (tb); Herb Hall (cl); Danny Barker (g); Milt Hinton (sb); Tommy Benford (d) and Bob Greene (p).

Bob Greene - photograph courtesy of Ryoichi Kawai

A Memory of Roy Carew


I met him only once. It was in 1962, when I went down to Washington to work in the Kennedy Administration. Washington, in those days, was full of life. Kennedy had been inaugurated just the year before, and the vitality of the man seemed to pervade even the sunlight and the streets. It was an optimistic and forward-looking time. In a sense, everyone felt young.

Roy Carew was not young. I had known about him from “The Record Changer” days. I remember when my friend and classmate Billy Grauer, who ran the magazine then, said, “Carew is the only white man Jelly Roll Morton ever trusted.” Grauer had a level head and knew a lot. But in those days I had no idea of the hardships of Jelly’s last days, of the miserable time he had had in Washington, of how Carew had been a lifeline and moral support to a New Orleans piano player and composer who once had been king. All I knew was that I worshiped Jelly, and here in Washington was Carew, who knew him.

I went up to 818 Quintana Place where Carew lived with his wife, Lillian. It was not an interview of any sort, but simply a courtesy visit to a man who had been a friend of Jelly’s. And it was a full ten years before the “World of Jelly Roll Morton” had even been envisioned.

The house — it may have been an apartment in a two family house — was most modest. The neighborhood was comfortable, but far from chic. Roy greeted me at the door. In retrospect I can see immediately why Jelly took to him. Roy Carew was the kindly uncle you loved best, who wore a vest and a watch chain, who was tall and slim and if he smoked he smoked a pipe and Edgeworth pipe tobacco in its small blue tin. He was a gentle man, who welcomed me inside, his voice quiet and modulated, his eyes kindly and warm. One can easily see him sitting back in his easy chair, slippers, and unfolding The Washington Daily News. I doubt whether he had changed very much from that day he discovered, in the same paper, that Jelly was playing at the “Blue Moon” nightclub, (formerly named the “Jungle Inn” and later the “Music Box”) and wondering if he knew Tony Jackson.

We made the usual pleasantries and finally got around to speaking of Jelly. It was a very simple encounter. Our common admiration for Jelly brought a pleasing warmth into our meeting. There was a piano in the room, and presently, to illustrate some point or other, he got up and went over to the upright, sat down and played. As I recollect, he fingered through the “Jelly Roll Blues” keeping time gently with his foot, his long fingers not too sure of the notes but playing with a devotion to the tune regardless of an occasional stumbling. One can easily imagine Jelly listening to him and, as Roy later remembered, saying, “That part’s not exactly right, but I guess it sounds just as good that way!” Carew was not a pianist, he was a music lover, from the Tony Jackson whom he heard and knew, to the man Jelly Roll Morton, who in a sense governed his last years. His sincerity made up for any pianistic failings. They simply did not matter.

He asked if I played, and I said I did, and he invited me to the piano. I played “King Porter” which he seemed to enjoy. I am not sure I played it much better than his “Jelly Roll Blues,” but between the two of us, there on Quintana Place, there was a touch and presence of Jelly Roll. It was enough.

Mrs. Carew came in. She was a pleasant, medium sized woman, quite pretty, greeted me, spoke to Roy about something, and then went back inside. One had the feeling that the music and Jelly was part of her life through her marriage to Roy and not of true interest to herself. The passion had consumed Roy some twenty years before, until Jelly died. She was simply a good sport.

Roy disappeared for a few moments and then came back with some sheet music in his hands. “These are tunes from the little company Jelly and I formed,” he said. “Maybe you’d like them.” He handed me, one by one, the music, with their green, blue, and off gold colors. “Why,” “If You Knew,” “My Home is in a Southern Town,” “The Elks,” “Sweet Substitute.” I had never heard of any of them, never having listened to the Morton Six’s and Seven’s. Nor did I have any idea of Tempo Music, and all the copies of unsold sheet music that Roy had accumulated. Nor did I realize the fiasco of the “Elks” endeavor, and how Roy had burned 3000 copies of it just to get rid of them, and that I now held one of the few surviving copies making it one of the rarest copies of Jelly’s sheet music.

I thanked him. It formed a nice bond between us. He had presented me with some of Jelly’s music, in a sense bestowing his benediction. Little did I realize that he himself had drawn the covers, that the words by Ed Werac were by Carew, spelt backwards, and of the struggles Jelly had with the big bands in New York in 1939 and 40, trying to get them to play these same tunes. I held in my hands the story of Jelly’s last years, but not until far later, with the unearthing of Jelly’s letters by Bill Russell, did I realize the poignancy of what I now had under my arm.

We said goodbye. Roy Carew saw me to the door, tall, mild, gentlemanly, thanking me for coming, wishing me well. I never saw him again. It was a lost opportunity, for questioning him might have filled out Jelly’s biography. But it was a social visit, a courtesy call so to speak, and one did not want to impose.

The scene now skips. It is early in the 1970s. Bill Russell has come to Washington and I am still living on Southdown Road, near Mount Vernon. Roy Carew has died, but Bill wants to see Mrs. Carew and buy from her what Jelly Roll items that remain from Roy’s collection. Lillian Carew has moved after Roy’s death to Chiswick Court in Silver Springs, Maryland.

I remember standing in the foyer while he spoke with Mrs. Carew. The atmosphere of the apartment was completely different from the warm and easy going feeling that Quintana Place had enjoyed with Roy there. It was more formal, no clutter, more brightly lighted. I got the impression that Lillian Carew was glad, finally, to have the opportunity to get rid of the Jelly Roll items that had cluttered up her house — and her marriage. But inside there must have been a closet somewhere, and in memory of Roy and perhaps even with a nod to Jelly, she had kept the contents intact.

I stayed out of the way while Bill spoke to her. It was now that she brought out the letters Jelly had written to Roy, some 200 of them after Jelly left Washington and was struggling in New York and, later, in California. It was now that Bill recovered the Jelly manuscripts that Roy had had, the lead sheets, the orchestrations. A treasure trove of Jelly’s later material was exchanged, Bill quietly receiving what Lillian Carew brought out from the interior of the apartment, carefully putting the items in his briefcase and envelopes, handling them with a tenderness that was moving. I remember that he paid her for the lot, but I don’t recall whether it was in cash or by check. It was a vitally important meeting for me too, for Bill kindly let me buy from Mrs. Carew the original J. Lawrence Cook transcriptions of some of Jelly’s Library of Congress recordings. By that time I was studying Jelly intently, and suddenly having the music of some of the Congress recordings in my hands was to change my life.

All transactions concluded we left, Bill Russell and I, driving back into the center of Washington. I do not recall if he stayed in the city that night, or took the train on the long journey back to New Orleans. For some reason the memory cuts off. I cannot imagine Bill Russell in an airplane. He used to call Union Station in Washington “my office,” and I suspect that was where I left him, the music on his lap, a dream realized, his Morton collection suddenly enriched by treasures he had only dreamed of.

And so the saga of Mr. Jelly Lord entered another phase. Quintana Place was over. Roy was dead, Lillian Carew also died, Bill Russell is gone as well. I still have my scraps of Mortania, and the rest, along with Bill’s previous finds, resides in splendor in the Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans, beautifully preserved for generations yet to come. There is a strange sort of sad beauty about it all, the kindly Roy Carew, the long suffering Lillian Carew, the devout and dedicated collector, Bill Russell, and the struggling Jelly Roll Morton, vainly trying to regain the throne he once held. Just people, caught up in life, trying to live out their lives and their talents as best they could. It might surprise them to know, that in their own way, they have become part of the American landscape.

© October 2004 Robert S. Greene

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 21st May 1952, page 9, columns 1—3.

Down Beat

Chords And Discords

Wyer Was Wrong – W. C. Handy

To the Editors:                                                                                                                           New York City

My attention has been called to an article by George Hoefer in the April 18 issue of Down Beat, captioned Tales Of Two Jazzmen: One True, Other False, and may I add, ALL FALSE. He writes:

“Onah Spencer, former Down Beat correspondent covering Chicago’s south side, learned the Wyer story from Jasper Taylor. It dates back to around 1916 when kid drummer Taylor was playing with William C. Handy’s band in Memphis.”

Onah Spencer and Jasper Taylor have read my book Father of the Blues, which gives the true story of Paul Wyer and his brother, Ed, who were violinists in my Memphis Orchestra and clarinet and baritone in my Brass Band. Paul made on his clarinet the first jazz break, which I incorporated in the original score of the Memphis Blues.

I have never worn patched pants and never had to wear them. I could, however, paint you a most delightful picture of the only time I didn’t have sufficient clothing, which happened in East St. Louis after I had pawned my watch to my employer for food and lodging. This man took my two weeks’ wages and kept my watch for the board and lodging and wouldn’t let me have my laundry and clothes. I went to the police for redress and they threatened to take me in for vagrancy if I pressed the charge.

It’s A Lie

Your statement beginning with this — “According to Taylor the Spanish Habanera rhythm in St. Louis Blues came from an arrangement of the tune made by Wyer, etc.,” is false. My Minstrel Band played Havana, Cuba on the Prado in 1899 — 10 years before I met Wyer, and if you read my book, you will see how I hung out with the natives, caught the rhythm of the rumba from them 30 years before it reached Broadway. In my minstrel band in the late ’90s I played compositions that had the Habanera movement.

The Tango was taken from an African word ‘Tangana’ which influenced the Spaniards, and the Spaniards influenced South Americans, who introduced the movement which I incorporated into my blues as the call of the blood.

Mr. Hoefer says — “According to Taylor the Spanish Habanera rhythm in St. Louis Blues came from an arrangement of the tune made by Wyer, etc.,” also, “It is said William Grant Still, who had played in the same Handy band, learned from Paul Wyer some of the musical ideas he later used in his compositions.” Such statement are malignant falsehoods that take from the Negro creator credits in ragtime and all that he has contributed to American music.

I wrote every note in St. Louis Blues, didn’t allow anybody to dot an “I” or cross a “T” or even read my proofs.

Still’s mother and father before him were musicians and he did not have to ask Wyer anything about music because he made the first band arrangement of St. Louis Blues and finished Wilberforce University and Oberlin Conservatory (music scholarship) before he ever saw Wyer.

W. C. Handy

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 24th September 1947, Vol. 14, No. 20, page 11, columns 1—3.

Down Beat


Jelly Roll’s Library Of
Congress Wax Date
World’s Longest Session


Ferdinand Joseph Morton, better known to jazz aficionados as “Jelly Roll,” achieved his second big wind in 1938. He became a top jazz recording artist after having fallen into obscurity around 1930, and at the same time was a vociferous jazz historian and autobiographer right on up to his death in July, 1941.

It was Charles Edward Smith who found Jelly playing a modernistic spinet piano in an upstairs joint in Washington D.C., called The Music Box. In April 1938 Alan Lomax made arrangements for Jelly to record a musical autobiography for the Folk Song Archives of the Library of Congress. A five week recording date started on May 21, 1938, in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Congressional Library.

Alan Lomax, speaking of one of the world’s longest recording sessions, told Onah Spencer of DOWN BEAT in January 1941, “Spencer, I recorded Jelly Roll for purely folk musical purposes for the Archives and it was the darndest thing you ever heard. One hour and a half of continuous monologue and musical flashes. He would shout, ‘I am the great Jelly Roll’ (then he would play a bit of piano music); then he would shout again ‘I am the great Jelly Roll’ (and intersperse a little more music); then he would holler ‘I invented jazz, yes I did. I did that,’ and that record is really something to hear.”

DOWN BEAT in June 1938 ran a story by Sidney Martin (written before the first session) outlining the plans of what Jelly Roll was to put no (on) wax. The idea was to have Morton cut discs on the development of jazz by playing
[,] singing and talking.

The rise of jazz and swing from folk music sources was to be house (barrelhouse) tunes, hymns and voodoo chants of New Orleans forty years ago. Jelly was to contribute all he could recall of the Creole melodies, New Orleans street cass (calls), funeral dirges, and the music of the backwoods churches. He was to embellish the discs with descriptions of the voodoo “rice on the blanket” rituals and relate the legends of the witch doctor’s powers.

Prolific Composer

Jelly Roll Morton was a prolific composer of jazz tunes. He transcribed many light opera tunes to jazz. Martin in his story also mentioned that Jelly was to sing tunes like Easy Rider, Stack O’Lee Blues and Midnight Special and the French Quadrille from which Tiger Rag was derived.

A great deal of talking was to be recorded with Jelly telling how he thought jazz rhythm was derived from the accompaniment the congregation in southern Negro Baptist churches gave the sermon by stomping their feet and clapping their hands. He was to play and tell the significance of the famous funeral march Flee Like A Bird To The Mountain and then describe how after the burial the band modulated to Oh, Didn’t He Ramble (Lomax has traced Ramble to a hymn brought over to the U.S. by the Pilgrims). Lomax also wanted Morton to play the early New Orleans military marches and show how they were transformed into standard Dixieland stomps.

Click to enlarge

Jelly Roll Morton

How well the late Jelly Roll performed this assignment has not been known generally. The records have been inaccessible for nine years in the Library Archives. The Morton estate has always retained the rights to the records, therefore, the Library has been unable to issue them in spite of the clamoring from jazz students the world over.

Settle With Circle

Before he died, he told his lawyer that there were certain people who were to never get these records because of the way they exploited him during his lifetime. The lawyer for the estate has finally accepted the terms of Circle Records and have released the rights to this company providing they issue the entire series with the exception of sixteen objectionable sides that would reflect on the Morton family.

Rudi Blesh, Recording Director, of Circle Records now announces the release of the records in a DeLuxe Edition of twelve albums with two albums coming out every three months. The total cost will be $120 for the complete set, payable $20 quarterly. Forty-Five records in all will be included on 12" vinylite.

These records should prove invaluable to the jazz collector. Although, Morton, who used to sign his letters, “Jelly Roll Morton Originator of Jazz and Stomps, World’s greatest hot tune writer,” sticks close to jazz on these sides, he also squeezes in descriptions of his “careers” as boxing promotor (promoter) and ambidextrous pool shark.

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 17th November 1950, page 7, column 1.

Down Beat

Rare Morton Piano Roll
Discovered In Junk Shop


Chicago — Here is a story to whet the appetite of the jazz collector. Since the war-time salvage drives, record hunting in junk shops, private homes, and record shops has become a dull occupation. It would appear that all the gems have been picked up. Every once in a while something happens to disprove this generality. Early last summer two Kansas City collectors stumbled in a rewarding junk pile in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Don Hoffman and Jerry Hatje of Wichita went up to Hutchinson expressly to search for vintage jazz records. In one large junk shop they found several good discs and a cabinet full of player piano rolls and a few loose rolls scattered around on the floor in corners. A carton in one of the corners contained some torn rolls and one perfect in its original box. The boys read the writing on box in awe: “Shreveport Stomp, by Jelly Roll Morton, copyrighted by the Melrose Brothers, 1924.” It is not indicated as to whether this roll was manufactured by the QRS company or by Vocal Style (Vocalstyle) Piano Roll Co. of Cincinnati. The roll cost the boys a dime.

Interest to Students

This find will eventually give Morton students an additional version of Jelly’s composition, as it will probably be put on wax by one of the small jazz labels. Other versions of Shreveport are Jelly’s piano solo on Gennett 3390 (1924) and the Jelly Roll Morton trio on Victor 21658 (1928).

Other Morton piano rolls have been found, including the QRS Dead Man Blues, which was transmitted to to records on Century 4000 by Sam Meltzer. William Russell advises that three other finds of Morton rolls have been reported to him, including Tin Roof Blues and two other Morton compositions. This is the first time he had heard of the Shreveport roll.

Additional Finds

Later in the summer, Don and Jerry picked up some more piano rolls from a tip given by a farmer, who had traded in his old player piano for new piano. The proprietor of the piano shop told the boys they could have all the piano rolls they wanted if they would go through the 500 or so he had in his garage. Among this pile they found James P. Johnson’s Innovations, Spencer Williams’ Tishomingo Blues, and Maceo Pinkard’s The (Those) Draftin’ Blues. There were also many rags, stomps, and blues by such artists as J. Russel Robinson, Pete Wendling, Clarence Jones, and Zez Confrey.

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 18th April 1952, page 7, columns 1—5.

Down Beat


Tales Of Two Jazzmen:
One True, Other False


Two interesting jazz legends have been brought to my attention in recent weeks. One, a true story, involve a clarinetist of early day jazz named J. Paul Wyer (or Wyre) who is now leading an orchestra in South America. The other is a false tale, prevalent in the southwest, built around the fabulous career of the late Pinetop Smith.

Onah Spencer, former Down Beat correspondent covering Chicago’s south side, learned the Wyer story from Jasper Taylor. It dates back to around 1916 when kid drummer Taylor was playing with William C. Handy’s band in Memphis.

Dressed to Kill

As Taylor recalls it, “It happened during the days when Handy would be dressed to kill in front, but when he turned towards the band he had to put at least one hand behind his back to cover the patches.” They were playing the excursion steamer Pattona and killed off their time in a combination pool room-gin mill.

One day a ragged stranger, whose physical characteristics resembled those of Duke Ellington, walked into the pool room. He had just dropped off of a fast freight and wanted to show Memphis what he could do. The bouncer wanted to eject the guy but a girl offered to buy him a drink. He didn’t want a drink but desired to borrow a violin and play for the assemblage. His wish was granted and he played many standard opera and violin solos from memory to the enthralled crowd.

Asked what else he could do, he proceeded to play the piano, the clarinet, and do magic tricks with the trombone (story goes he made snakes come out of the bell of the horn). Finally, Wyer finished up by cleaning the house out with a pool stick.

W. C. Handy followed up by hiring Wyer for his band, and soon learned that the fellow was the son of a Wyer he had heard about. The father had been an army bandleader at Pensacola and the director of a symphony orchestra that played in Havana, Cuba, and for musical comedy road shows. It turned out that Paul had a brother named Ed who also joined the Handy band and played violin.


According to Taylor the Spanish Habanera rhythm in St. Louis Blues came from an arrangement of the tune by Wyer who as a boy had played in Havana in his father’s orchestra. It is also said that William Grant Still, who played in the same early Handy Band, learned from Paul Wyer some of the musical ideas he later used in his compositions.

The story goes on that after Wyer (Paul) left Handy he drifted into Chicago taking the pool sharks, including the famed Mush Mouth Johnson, for all they were worth. Finally he won $60,000 on the Irish Sweepstakes and went to South America to become an importer.

Latest information indicates Paul Wyer was mixed up with the Nazis for awhile during the late war and disappeared for some years. A recent magazine received from Wyer by Jasper Taylor showed a picture of Paul leading a South American orchestra.

Read Everything

Handy in his Father of the Blues recalls Paul Wyer as a clarinetist who could read anything written and without a prepared part could improvise a part worthy of writing down. [FOB 96]

Buster Bailey, a well known clarinet player who also started his career in the Handy band, recalls Wyer as a great artist.

The Pinetop Smith legend, disproved by Down Beat’s bizarre 1939 story, I Saw Pine Top Spit Blood and Fall, appeared last November in Sigman Byrd’s column in the Houston Press. Byrd, who goes under the title of “The Stroller,” got his story from a Buster Cartwright who runs a gin mill and plays blues piano in Houston.

Pinetop Story

The legendary tale revolves around how the boogie finally killed Pinetop. Cartwright knowingly told Byrd how Pinetop was born in New Orleans (he was born in Troy, Ala.) and wondered if Duke Ellington would play Smith’s boogie at a forthcoming Houston concert.

Cartwright’s story goes as follows: Pinetop had a gal named Bessie Rose who lived in Galveston. The Boogie Woogie was dedicated to her and she was “the little gal with the red dress on” in Pinetop’s famous lyrics. Fact is, Buster averred Pinetop had only two numbers in his repertoire but could play them all night. One of these was Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie and the other Jump Study. The latter was incorrectly titled Jump Steady.

It seems that one hot summer night in 1929 Pinetop was playing at the Naked club in Galveston. Bessie Rose hadn’t shown as yet. Pinetop usually reserved the Boogie for her as she insisted he sing it just for her. On this particular night another gal who had been picked up by Smith’s roving eye inspired him to go into his Boogie. The new chick, a fancy light-brown gal, followed up and stood by Smith’s piano bending close to his ear whispering, “Play it for me Pinetop.” He was averring that was what he was doing when in walked Bessie Rose.

Red on White

When Bessie surveyed the situation she right then and there drew her West Dallas Special out of her purse and opened the blade. She walked straight towards the piano where Pinetop’s back was turned to her and buried the blade in the Boogie King’s back. He fell over on the piano and every white key turned crimson with his blood. That’s the legend.

For those who didn’t see or don’t remember Down Beat’s 1939 story, we’ll repeat the death facts uncovered by Sharon Pease. Pease obtained a copy of Smith’s death certificate bearing out the truth that Pinetop Smith was killed by a pistol bullet, quite by accident, in a Chicago west side dance hall. Two men whom Smith hardly knew got into a scuffle and a third ran towards them with a pistol. Somehow or other Pinetop was pushed in the line of the third man’s fire. This happened in March 1929.

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the following article titled: “BEALE RIDDLE : The Sound He Can’t Forget” by Harold C. Hopkins : Part 1. The article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated July—August, 1966, Vol. XVII, pages 91—93. Special thanks to Don Marquis, Harold C. Hopkins and Millie Gaddini.

Beale Riddle
The Sound He Can’t Forget
By Harold C. Hopkins
Washington, D. C. : Part 1

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the following article titled: “BEALE RIDDLE : The Sound He Can’t Forget” by Harold C. Hopkins : Part 2. The article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated September—October, 1966, Vol. XVII, pages 117—118 and 123. Special thanks to Don Marquis and Harold C. Hopkins.

Beale Riddle
The Sound He Can’t Forget
By Harold C. Hopkins
Washington, D. C. : Part 2

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the Jazz Music magazine, dated February—March 1944, Vol. II, Nos. 6 & 7 (issues 16/17), pages 109—116.

Jelly Roll Morton in Washington
By Kenneth Hulsizer

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the Playback magazine, dated December 1949, Vol. 2, No. 11, pages 3—5.

Playback - Incorporating The Jazzfinder

That’s When


About 1939, a friend of mine was playing some Wilton Crawley records at my place, and during the piano solo it suddenly came to me that it was Jelly-Roll Morton. I had had the record for some time, but this was the first time I had noticed that the piano was Morton, and, as far as I know, no one else had noticed it before, either. Perhaps no one had ever listened to the record beyond the first few bars of the clarinet solo. I mentioned my discovery to George Beall in my next letter; he had the record, and agreed that the piano was Morton. I had just three of the five Crawley Victors at that time, but I went after the other two at once. I also began inquiring around to learn if anyone knew who the accompanying band was.

The result of my inquiries was a consensus that the band was a Luis Russell group. This didn’t sound right to me. One of my records sounded like a Luis Russell group but two of them didn’t. When I acquired the missing two records, however, they also sounded like Russell men even though the Washboard Rhythm Kings were credited on the label of one of the records for the accompaniment. The noticeable difference in the sides to me was in the bass players. The bass on two of the records didn’t sound like Pops Foster, but it did sound like Wellman Braud.

During the war, I got acquainted with Harrison Smith, and we began a long correspondence. Harrison had managed Crawley, and he remembered the sides. He said that to the best of his memory, they had all been made at the same time and all with members of the Luis Russell orchestra, which Victor then used as a sort of studio group — calling them Henry Allen’s, King Oliver’s, or Jelly Roll Morton’s Orchestra on occasion.

Back in the thirties, when I lived in Washington, I used to go regularly to the Howard Theater and on one of the bills there, Wilton Crawley appeared. He did a vaudeville act that consisted of a combined contortionist, balancing, juggling, and musical performance. He tied himself in knots, he balanced a lighted kerosene lamp complete with chimney on his head, and played the clarinet all the while. For a smash finish, he stood on his head and propelled himself across the stage into the wings while playing what sounded like a wild version of “Tiger Rag” on the clarinet.

I mentioned having seen this act to Harrison in one of my letters, and Harrison wrote me that he remembered Crawley’s act and that Crawley performed a great part of it before the microphone while recording. Morton had been inserted into the recording group to hold Crawley down as Crawley was inclined to be a little wild. Morton started the band off and everything was fine until Crawley came in for his first solo. Startled by the strange sounds, Morton looked up from the piano just in time to get a load of Crawley tied in a knot while recording his clarinet solo. “That’s when Jelly fell out,” Harrison told me. Luis Russell also recalls the exchange of repartee between Morton and Crawley on one date, which he said was the most hilarious he was ever on.

After the world had been made safe for Democracy, I again got a chance to listen to the records: all of them this time. But, in spite of Harrison Smith’s testimony, it sounded like at least two and perhaps three different outfits made the records. On four sides there is a horn bass, a washboard, a guitar, a trumpet that must be Henry Allen, and a sax that should be Charlie Holmes, in addition to Crawley and Morton. Since two of these sides are labelled as Wilton Crawley with the Washboard Rhythm Kings, it is probable that the bass, washboard and cowbells and guitar came from the WBRK outfit.

On two sides, there is a string bass (which should be Pops Foster), Henry Allen on trumpet, Nicholas or Holmes (or both) playing sax or clarinet, but no washboard and no piano solos, nor anything to indicate whether Morton played piano on these two sides.

Of the four remaining sides, “Futuristic Blues” is mostly arrangement; the only solo, besides Crawley’s is a piano solo and this is not by Morton. The trumpet, alto sax and bass on these four sides are all different men from those on the other sides; none sounds like a member of Luis Russell’s orchestra. The trumpet is certainly not by Henry Allen by any stretch of the imagination. I knew I had heard part of “She’s Got What I Need” somewhere, and the bass sounded so much like Wellman Braud that I started looking through my Duke Ellington Victors. I found what I was looking for on “Cotton Club Stomp.” Here trumpet, alto, and bass play quite similar solos to those on the Crawley record, and I decided that these four Crawley sides were made with Jenkins, Hodges, Braud and other Ellington men (there is a pretty full band playing harmony on “Futuristic Blues”). The identification of the trumpet soloist as Jenkins is tentative; at any rate it does not sound like Cootie or Whetsel, and this was after Miley had left; the alto sax solos also are more characteristic of Hodges than of Charlie Holmes.

Jelly Roll Morton solos on three of these sides; on “She’s Got What I Need” there is also a piano duet, one of the pianos being Morton, who takes the breaks while the other trills behind him. Ellington himself is logical for the second piano, but in a recent letter Luis Russell recalled making a date for Crawley with Jelly-Roll on the second piano; since this is the only 2-piano date, it must have been Russell and not Duke.

For two years, I played these records for everyone who would listen to them, but I could find no one to agree with me that there were any Ellington men on any of the sides. They all heard nothing but Henry Allen, Charlie Holmes and Pops Foster. Finally, Walter Allen came out to see me and I tried them on him and he could hear what I said. He said he would get the masters, etc., from Victor and see how they lined up. The discography follows.



Wilton Crawley

Clarinet and singing with orchestra (Henry Allen, tp; unknown, tb; Wilton Crawley, cl-vo; Charlie Holmes, as; probably a third reed; probably Luis Russell, p; probably Will Johnson, g; Pops Foster, b; probably Paul Barbarin, d):                                                    New York, October 3, 1929

(Notes: Allen and Holmes are readily identified by ear, and Foster’s bass is almost definite. The trombone is almost inaudible, which would seem to rule out Higginbotham. Russell, Johnson and Barbarin are logical guesses in view of the rest of the personnel.)

56747-2           SNAKE HIP DANCE — v.r.
56748-2           SHE’S DRIVING ME WILD — v.r.

Vi V-38094
Vi V-38094

Wilton Crawley & His Orchestra   (Vi V-38136)
Wilton Crawley — Clarinet with Orchestra  (Vi V-38116)

(Probably Freddy Jenkins, Arthur Whetsel, tp; unknown, possibly Joe Nanton, tb; Wilton Crawley, cl; Johnny Hodges, as; Jelly Roll Morton, Luis Russell, p; unknown, bj; unknown, g; Wellman Braud, b; possibly Sonny Greer, d):                                            New York, December 2, 1929

(Notes: Trumpet soloist is the same man as on Ellington’s Cotton Club Stomp; not Miley or Whetsel or Williams, tentatively identified as Jenkins. Hodges, Morton and Braud are readily identified by ear. Russell recalls his own participation on this date. Second trumpet, trombone, banjo, guitar and drums are audible in the ensembles; suggestions given are logical guesses.)

57565-2           YOU OUGHTA SEE MY GAL
57566-1           FUTURISTIC BLUES
57568-1           SHE’S GOT WHAT I NEED

Vi V-38136
Vi V-38136
Vi V-38116, BB B-5827
Vi V-38116, BB B-5827

Wilton Crawley & Orchestra   (Vi 23292)
Wilton Crawley & The Washboard Rhythm Kings   (Vi 23344)

(Henry Allen, co; Wilton Crawley, cl-vo; Charlie Holmes, as; Jelly Roll Morton, p; probably Teddy Bunn, g; unknown, tu; unknown, wb & cowbells):                       New York, June 3, 1930

(Notes: Allen, Holmes and Morton are readily identified by ear, and the guitarist does sound rather like Bunn, who did play with some of these Washboard groups. The identities of the tuba and washboard players, probably regular members of the Washboard Rhythm Kings, are not known.)

62188-2           BIG TIME WOMAN — v.r.
62189-2           I’M HER PAPA, SHE’S MY MAMA — v.r.
62190-1           NEW CRAWLEY BLUES

Vi 23292
Vi 23344
Vi 23344
Vi 23292

Label credits for all the tunes are given to Wilton Crawley. Thanks are due to Mr. E.C. Forman of RCA Victor, who supplied us with instrumentations, recording dates and locations, and master numbers. There are no unissued Victor recordings by Wilton Crawley.

Nick Dellow sends the following article from the Jazz Music magazine, dated November 1943, Vol. II, No.3 (issue 13), pages 48—49.

Jazz Music



4. Tony Jackson

OF TONY JACKSON’S piano playing it is hard to speak since nothing of his work has been preserved on records. However, legend has it that he was the greatest of all New Orleans ‘professors’, and musicians as discerning as Jelly Morton and Richard Jones consider him to have been the equal of any blues player past or present. White (While) maintaining doubts as to the validity of every passing estimation advanced by old-timers under the stimulus of interview I believe the general appraisal of Jackson to be well founded. Certainly as the doyen of blues pianists his name invades any discussion of that topic, even though his instrumental manner cannot accurately be defined.

Just to mention blues to a veteran jazzman from New Orleans is to invite reference to Jackson. Simms Campbell, gathering impressions from Clarence Williams, relates in “Jazzmen” how the latter began his reminiscences: “You never knew Tony Jackson, did you? No, of course not. You were too young.” In Williams’ opinion, too, Jackson was greatest of them all, ‘great because he was original in all of his improvisations — a creator, a supreme stylist.’

The time and place of Jackson’s arrival and departure from this blithesome world have not been made known to me, so he must enter the narrative an accomplished adult already possessed of talent sufficient to secure him lucrative employment at Chicago’s World Fair — providing after-hours entertainment for the weary men of commerce. Then, New Orleans music was peculiar to that city and the exposition doubtless occasioned Chicago’s first earful of ‘downtown hokum’. The meat-packing metropolis suffered an invasion that year (1893) from which it never fully recovered, Tony Jackson and Slap Rags White being but two of the Crescent City contingent which awakened jazz response in many a Windy citizen.

Back home, Jackson worked solo and with bands. In the early nineteen hundreds he was with Adam Olivier, along with Bunk Johnson, and this, and other ragtime and blues bands exerted considerable influence on his piano style. He was undisputed boss of the sporting house pianists, his reputation being such that a mere rumour of his intended participation in a piano contest served to discourage hosts of potential entrants. When New Orleans’ finest blues and stomp exponents journeyed to St. Louis to match skill at the 1904 exposition Jelly Roll Morton stayed behind. He said: “I thought Tony Jackson was going to be there and that kind of frightened me.” Actually, Jackson didn’t compete and the contest was won by another Storyville musician — Alf Wilson.

Jackson found employment at the highest class of sporting house — Basin Street mansions with elegant furnishings, mirror-rooms, parquet floors and beautiful mahogany grands — and if wages were sometimes as low as a dollar a night there were tips that could be relied upon to swell the professor’s income to enviable proportions. For his part, he must be competent to furnish ‘tasteful’ background music for drinking, talking and dancing. Besides the conventional stepping there would often be naked dances performed in the mirror-room or, as a variation, routines carried out on the diminutive surface of a round table for which the dancer was clad in evening dress. The gown came off when a certain price was named, to Madame of course since the girls were implicated in commercial transactions only, by proxy.

Most of the good music was played outside working time when the employees were, to quote Jelly Roll, ‘one big happy family’. The place he spoke of was called ‘the Frenchman’s’ and it seems to have been a rendezvous for ragmen. According to Charles Edward Smith: “Big stars from the Orpheum Circuit dropped in for the good food, the liquor, and — ‘ideas’. There they could find such pianists as Albert Cahil (Carroll), Sammy Davis, Alfred Wilson, Kid Ross and Jelly Roll; but if Tony Jackson was at the piano stool no one asked him to relinquish it.”

Places Jackson worked at, besides the Frenchman’s, were Tom Anderson’s Annex — one of Storyville’s grandest cabarets — and the Countess Willie Piazza’s house which boasted of the quality of its wines and Octoroons. Tips alone, at these establishments, amounted to anything under two hundred dollars a week, also the top-grade players commanded a high figure in the private entertainment market. At another time Jackson ‘dispensed’ for Gypsy Schaeffer who ran one of Basin Street’s most dazzling sporting houses. The Storyville stage of his career must have brought him in several fortunes, none of which remained long in his possession.

Although it was on the piano that Jackson excelled, his ability was not confined to that medium. Nature had endowed him with a voice of rare flexibility which he put to several uses — all within the scope of the term ‘singing’. One of the songs invariably associated with him is Clarence Williams’ Michigan Water Blues and Jelly Roll selected it for his commemoration of Jackson when he recorded the ‘New Orleans Memories’ album for General. Jelly wrote once (in a letter to “Downbeat”) ‘Tony Jackson used to play the blues in 1905, entitled Michigan Water Tastes Like Sherry Wine. He never sang anything on the stage but blues, such as Elgin Movements in My Hips, with 20 Years’ Guarantee.’ Another of his tunes was Pretty Baby, written later in Chicago, and there has been mention made of a piece of his called Whoa B— Whoa. It is not clear what the B— denotes. The Elgin song was based on a nationally-known slogan and it became popular with the sporting crowd when Jackson was at Piazza’s.

Exactly when he left New Orleans is open to doubt, but Jackson certainly arrived in Chicago around 1910. He had been on several successive tours and in all probability departed from home some two years previously. He went to work in Chicago’s red-light district leading a small outfit at the Elite club. Sometimes he took jobs as a soloist because his many talents enabled him to earn more that way.

During most of 1912 and ’13 he played at a cafe called Dago and Russell’s and at this time renewed friendship with Jelly Morton who was working the ‘district’ also. Morton maintained the greatest admiration for Tony Jackson whose habits and mode of dress he closely copied. The latter, from all accounts, was more sensitive than the ordinary run of brothel pianists which may be the reason the tough ones labelled him — according to C. E. Smith — effeminate. His clothes were expensive and carefully chosen; on the whole he neither smoked nor drank to excess. Despite a slightly deformed jawbone and general plainness of countenance his personality invariably ‘went over big’. As Jelly put it: “He was very dark and he wasn’t a bit good looking but he had a beautiful disposition.”

His piano playing we know to have been technically satisfying — at fast pieces he was perhaps unrivalled — and his vocal prowess at any rate brought him fame when he moved on to New York after the Great War. When he died (around 1920 or so) he was reported to have been penniless. In the opinion of Morton, who knew a very great deal about the subject, Tony Jackson was ‘the world’s greatest single-handed entertainer.’ Which seems a most suitable epitaph.

Note: This article was first published in the British Jazz Music magazine, dated November 1943, Vol. II, No.3 (issue 13), pages 48—49. The editors of this rare WWII magazine were Albert McCarthy and Max Jones.

Note: See also Peter Hanley’s essay of Tony Junius Jackson accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the Jazz Music magazine, dated February—March 1944, Vol. II, Nos. 6 & 7 (issues 16/17), pages 86—101.

Ferdinand Joseph Morton - A Biography
by Max Jones

Roger Richard and John Simmen send the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated February 1963, Vol. 16, No. 2, pages 7—11.

The Shep Allen Story
by George W. Kay

Roger Richard sends the following full-scale serialised article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated November 1968, (Part 1) Vol. 21, No. 11, pages 2—5 and December 1968, (Part 2) Vol. 21, No. 12, pages 8—9.

Final Years of Frustration (1939-1941)
As told by Jelly Roll Morton in his letters to Roy J. Carew
Annotated by George W. Kay

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated April 1972, Vol. 25, No. 4, pages 18—19 and 39.

Chink Martin
an interview with George W. Kay

Michael Hill sends the following article from The Record Changer magazine, dated February 1948, Vol. 7, No. 2, pages 6—7. Courtesy of Richard B. Hadlock

Sweet Papa Jelly Roll
Ten Year History of Morton’s Library of Congress Recordings
by Orrin Keepnews

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the article titled: “Jelly Roll in Chicago (1927)” by Karl Kramer. This full-scale article was serialised in The Second Line magazine, dated January—February 1961, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 & 2, pages 1—3, 5—6, 23, 25—26 and March—April 1961, Vol. 12, Nos. 3 & 4, pages 19—22. Special thanks to Don Marquis, Daniel Meyer and Michael Hill.

Jelly Roll in Chicago (1927)
by Karl Kramer

Brian Goggin sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated December 1951, Vol. 4, No. 12, pages 12—14.

The Spikes Brothers
A Los Angeles Saga

by Floyd Levin

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated December 1970, Vol. 23, No. 12, pages 26—27.

Brun Campbell
The original Ragtime Kid of the 1890s
by Floyd Levin

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal International magazine, dated July 1993, Vol. 46, No. 7, pages 6—10.

Kid Ory’s Legendary
Nordskog/Sunshine Recordings

by Floyd Levin

Floyd Levin sends the following article from the American Music magazine, dated December 1997, Vol. 7, No. 2, pages 18—19.

American Music

The Saga of Jelly Roll Morton’s
Ill-fated Final Recording Date


During the Fall of 1940, Ed Garland, veteran bassist with Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band, received a very interesting phone call. It was Jelly Roll Morton, in New York. The great pianist-composer’s godmother recently died and he was coming West to handle her estate. While in the area, he wanted to rehearse a large New Orleans band for a recording session.

He asked Garland to locate the best possible players for the rehearsals. Since Morton indicated he was very ill and would probably not play the piano, Garland selected Buster Wilson, an apprentice of Morton’s two decades before, to stand by.

The saga of Jelly Roll’s arduous cross country trip towing a second car through snow packed roads has been carefully documented in Alan Lomax’s book “Mister Jelly Roll,” published in the early ’50s.

By the time he arrived, the band was ready. It included: Mutt Carey and Pee Wee Brice, trumpets, Kid Ory and Jug Everly, trombones. Theodore Bonner, Robert Garner, and Alfonso George, saxophones, Atwell Rose, violin, Bud Scott, guitar, Ed Garland, bass. Minor Hall, drums, Buster Wilson would play piano and Jelly was to conduct.

The newly assembled Jelly Roll Morton orchestra rehearsed for several weeks at the Elks Hall on Central Avenue. Morton had written many new numbers for the record date he claimed was scheduled.

“Those arrangements were very interesting.” Garland told me. “Jelly was aware that some of his tunes were being successfully played by the swing bands — Goodman had a hit record of his King Porter Stomp and Lionel Hampton’s Shoe Shiner’s Drag was heard every day on the radio. He thought he would show those swing bands how his music should be played. He had written parts for four trumpets and five saxophones, but he revised the arrangements to fit the smaller band I put together for him.”

Morton’s health deteriorated rapidly and he was hospitalized in the Spring of 1941. Garland continued rehearsing the band for Morton until Jelly’s death.

Unfortunately, Jelly’s final recording session never took place. He died on July 10, 1941, ending his dream to resume a prominent position in contemporary popular music.

He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. The pallbearers included Kid Ory, Mutt Carey, Fred Washington, and Ed Garland. The grave remained unmarked until 1950 when the newly formed Southern California Hot Jazz Society helped arrange for a marker to be placed on the grave. (It will require a separate article to properly delineate the intricacies of that unusual situation).

An ironic twist of fate denied an opportunity for me to own the arrangements Morton wrote for that anticipated record date. His handwritten scores remained in Buster Wilson’s front room for almost a decade. They were in a large trunk draped with a silk shawl and topped with a tarnished brass lamp. Buster promised to sort through the trunk “one day” and promised to give me those old manuscripts. I repeatedly reminded him of his offer, but he never managed to open the trunk.

After Buster’s death, I informed his widow, Carmelita, of the promise. I discreetly called her several times but she seemed reluctant to give me the manuscripts. The phone eventually was disconnected. Carmelita moved, and apparently left the city. It was never possible to contact her again.

Garland told me that none of the musicians received payment for the lengthy rehearsals. Although his memory was usually very sharp, he could not recall the titles of the tunes they rehearsed. Also, I was never able to obtain any information regarding a firm with whom Jelly might have arranged to issue the proposed recordings.

To my knowledge, this is the only published documentation about Jelly’s last jazz band. We can only speculate on how those records might have sounded. It is regrettable that Jelly Roll Morton’s last writings will probably never be located.

© 1997 Floyd Levin

Floyd Levin, whose award-winning articles have been published in international jazz magazines over a 50-year period, has kindly granted permission to publish: “Anita Gonzales and the Untold Story of Jelly Roll Morton’s Last Years.” This chapter is from his book, “Classic Jazz : A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians.”

Anita Gonzales
 and the Untold Story of Jelly Roll Morton’s Last Years
by Floyd Levin

Roger Richard sends the following article titled: “The Silver Dollar Episode” by Floyd Levin, whose award-winning articles have been published in international jazz magazines over a 50-year period.

The Silver Dollar Episode


Those of us sincerely interested in the history of the music we call jazz, occasionally come across a fascinating fragment of information that opens huge vistas for future research. Many of the known details of early jazz history were brought to the surface by dedicated collectors who fervently searched for the facts and painstakingly pieced together each tiny bit of information. The vivid fabric of jazz history has beer carefully woven by probing devotees bent upon documenting every minute segment of the music’s background.

I have always considered myself a part of this research movement. By peering into the past and questioning every possible source for hidden facts, I have made some startling disclosures. Some have received acclaim from fans and collectors throughout the world. (My expose on Tony Jackson’s personal life was reprinted in six languages!) But none of my previous research efforts have equaled my latest adventure which I shall always refer to as, “The Silver Dollar Episode.”

During a recent conversation with jazz bassist Ed Garland, he spoke about the late Jelly Roll Morton. I was very interested by Garland’s remarks because Morton is probably my very favorite jazz musician (along with Armstrong, Bechet, Ellington, and a score of others!). “Tudie” recalled hearing Jelly play at a small cafe in downtown Los Angeles. Garland, Kid Ory, and Papa Mutt Carey frequently sat in with the New Orleans pianist at the old Silver Dollar Cafe on Main Street near 8th.


Being familiar with that area, I recalled seeing a Silver Dollar Cafe — on Main near 8th! It still exists — a surviving link with the golden age of jazz! Could this small bar possibly hold secrets that I might expose to the world? Would an old employee remember when Jelly Roll Morton had worked there? Since Morton certainly played a most important role in the jazz drama, any bits of information about his career would be of great interest to his many fans. I immediately decided to fully explore this exciting situation.

Because of the slightly unsavory location adjacent to Los Angeles’ seedy Skid Row, I felt it advisable to visit the S.D. without my usual feminine companion, so I ‘phoned Lucille and said that I would be home later than usual. I explained that a very important assignment in the interest of jazz research required my attention. I left the office early and drove toward that magic corner of 8th and Main excited at the prospect of visiting the actual site of my hero’s triumph!

Stopping at the traffic signal directly across from the Silver Dollar Cafe, I glanced toward the entrance. A large sign over the door proclaimed, “TOP-LESS WAITRESSES!” “WILD GO-GO GIRLS.” While I have never been a devotee of mammillary exposure, I promptly decided that no sacrifice was too great in the interests of jazz research!

Waiting for the signal to change, I recalled the many pleasant hours I had spent listening to Jelly’s records. I fondly remembered those wonderful Library of Congress albums, Morton’s personal requiem — perhaps the most important record date in jazz history! “The Pearls,” one of the most beautiful compositions ever written, is just one of the Morton gems. We are also indebted to him for “Wolverine Blues,” “Milenberg Joys,” “King Porter Stomp,” “Original Jelly-Roll Blues.” I wanted to savor this delicious nostalgia before actually entering the hallowed hall where the immortal Jelly Roll Morton had actually performed.

Entering the darkened room, I realized that the early evening hour would be ideal to interview the bartender who might remember Morton. Perhaps the very piano on which he had performed might still be in use! Undoubtedly, the management had changed many times over the years, but perhaps I could learn if the original owner was still alive.

I found a tiny round table that was not occupied although the ashtray was filled. Moments after seating myself, I was approached by a rather formidable blond waitress. A casual observation disclosed that she was, indeed, topless — and very well endowed! As she came closer, I was transfixed by the undulating motion of her large breasts, which halted as she reached my table. I mumbled something about a cold bottle of beer and she jiggled toward the bar.

I glanced around hoping to see something that I might link this moment with that earlier era when Morton’s articulation had filled this very room. The walls were heavily draped with a slightly faded satin that showed evidence of several unsuccessful attempts to remove large stains. Perhaps beneath those awful drapes, the original walls might disclose some clue to the room’s original appearance. It had probably been, paneled in rich woods . . .

My reverie was interrupted by the blond waitress who had reappeared with a round tray on which rested (in addition to her large breasts) the bottle of beer I had ordered and a slightly soiled glass.

As she learned forward to pour my beer, I stammered, “B-b-been working here long, dear?”


Sensing that our conversation would rapidly deteriorate from this brilliant beginning, I concentrated on my beer as she turned to wipe the table next to mine. Another customer had entered the cafe and she moved toward him leaving a mixed aroma of cheap perfume and perspiration. An experimental sip of the beer disclosed that it was not cold enough — probably the result of its recent juxtapositional arrangement on her tray!

I left the table and casually sauntered toward the bartender who acknowledged my presence with the warm greeting, “What’s yours, Buddy?”

“I have a beer at the table,” I muttered, overlooking the “Buddy” which usually would have annoyed me. “What sort of band do you have here?” I asked, to start the conversation.

“It’s a band! Four, five young guys. They plug in their guitars and play loud. The girls do the go-go bit so no one looks at the band. The band ain’t much — but the girls are great. We have one girl here, would you believe . . .”

“Ever hear of Jelly Roll Morton,” I blurted. I decided to get to the point immediately.

“Jelly Roll WHO? Hey, are you drunk? This is a respectable place and we don’t want no trouble!”

“No I’m not drunk,” I protested. “Jelly Roll Morton was a great jazz musician and I understand that he played in this very place many years ago. He wrote “Wolverine Blues” and . . .”

He interrupted, “Never heard of him. I’ve worked here for eight years and no one named Martin ever played here. Did he play guitar?”

“His name was MORTON!” I think my voice became slightly louder, “and he played piano! It was a long time ago — Jelly died in 1941 . . .”

“Listen Buddy,” he snarled, “I was born in 1943, so hawdaya ’spect me to remember that?”

I returned, to my table saddened by my failure at the bar. The beer was gone (but the ashtray was still full). A slight gesture to my overexposed friend sent her hack to the bar for another bottle of beer which I drank quickly.

It was then that I noted the juke box. THE JUKE BOX! This would be a wonderful place to hear some of Morton’s recorded classics. Who could ever forget the brilliant “Cannon Ball Blues” with that torrid George Mitchell trumpet solo! Jelly’s Red Hot Peppers’ recording of “Black Bottom Stomp” will live forever. Probably the best recorded work of Johnny Dodds and Johnny St. Cyr can be heard on many early Morton hits. The Morton piano solos, the early Gennetts or the later Generals, clearly establish guidelines by which jazz piano playing can be judged. When one of these solos is transcribed to a sheet of music, the tremendous technique of the master is quite apparent. The printed black notes hang in huge clusters like ripe plump grapes ready for the harvest.

I reached into my pocket for change and moved toward the gaudy neon juke box and eagerly scanned the list of offerings.


I read on in horror:


After reading the entire list, I realized that JELLY ROLL MORTON was not represented on the entire program.

My buxom waitress must have gone home. The next beer was delivered by a comely lass of less spectacular proportions but with a warm, friendly smile. She emptied the ashtray. I decided that the interests of jazz research could not be served by questioning this young, girl about Jelly Roll Martin — er, Morton.

A wave of gloom swept over me. Gone was the nostalgic thrill of discovering some hidden secrets of jazz’s dark past. I was even slightly, disturbed with Jelly Roll himself — perhaps he was not the world’s greatest pianist after all! Maybe he did not actually write “Tiger Rag” as he claimed! Should I transfer my affection to Art Tatum? Or James P. Johnson? In the future, I would certainly leave this jazz research bit for such skilled writers as William Russell, Johnny Simmen, Stanley Dance, or George Kay.

These dark thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the harsh staccato of auto horns behind me. The signal had changed and the irate motorists were protesting my delay. Across the street, a sleeveless man was sweeping the sidewalk in front of the Silver Dollar Cafe. The “TOPLESS” sign looked very faded. The windows of the bar were streaked.

I ground into first gear and sped toward the freeway. Tuning the car radio to Benson Curtis’ program, I settled back to the familiar routine of Los Angeles freeway travel. The program ended as I reached the top of the hill and swung into our driveway. The strains of “Panama” remained in my head as I turned the key and opened the door.

“Honey, I’m home!”

© 2002 Floyd Levin

Brian Goggin sends the following article from The Record Changer magazine, dated April 1951, Vol. 10, No. 4, page 5. Courtesy of Richard B. Hadlock.

The Record Changer

notes on : BUNK and JELLY ROLL

by John Lucas

Perhaps the end is in sight for the Dixieland Revival, but one would never suspect it after spending a night with Doc Evans. His band has just hit its peak. If not an All-Star, it is at least something of an All-American group. Every center of Dixieland, save New Orleans and San Francisco, is represented. Doc is now himself the last of many Minneapolis musicians who have recorded with him; trombonist Al Jenkins is the last of many Detroit jazzmen, clarinetist Volly DeFaut the latest of many Chicagoans, and pianist Don Ewell one of several New Yorkers.

The result of this blend is at once astonishingly cohesive and absolutely new. It makes one want to proclaim that Dixieland, far from being dead, has never been more alive than now. Feeling that no description of mine can do this unit full justice, I shall say no more about it. What I can report, however, is some fresh material on Bunk Johnson and Jelly Roll Morton — the observations and reflections of men, Ewell and DeFaut respectively, who worked with them and knew them as well as any.

Volly DeFaut knew Jelly best during the Friar’s Inn days, when Morton occasionally sat in and once even recorded with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. DeFaut himself, coming to Chicago from Little Rock in 1912, had replaced Jack Pettis on alto sax in 1923. Neither he nor his friend Don Murray, contrary to current opinion, made records with the band. Furthermore, DeFaut cannot recall at all the “Scoville” who made the sides on which Morton played piano. He confirms the prevalent suspicion that Jelly Roll did not participate in the Bucktown Five sessions, saying that it really was Mel Stitzel instead. It was Stitzel, too, who — as a result of his connection with Melrose — brought Morton and the Rhythm Kings together.

Jelly cut his sides with Volly, however, after the latter had left the Rhythm Kings. Unlike the later Morton dates, these sessions were improvised from start to finish. “We just sat down and played,” says Volly, “and afterward Morton wrote out the arrangements.” DeFaut remembers that the group Morton used sometimes included — besides clarinet and piano — a comb player (or maybe a kazoo) and one other man who (whatever he may have done) did not play drums. Occasionally there was a female vocalist as well — a blues singer with a big name — perhaps Josephine Baker, perhaps Kitty Irvin (as Venables suggests), perhaps (though I doubt it) Bessie herself. Volly is very uncertain about such details, and of course all this happened more than a quarter century ago. Of one thing he is sure, nevertheless: that only two of a number of sides he made with Morton were released at the time. (Presumably, no others have been issued since.) These were My Gal and Wolverine Blues. Among the others, for instance, at least one record a week was cut for a period of five weeks straight with that singer whose name he has now forgotten. They were recorded for resale by some promoter at the Lyon & Healy Building. That is all DeFaut can say. Whether these masters (which could be very exciting) will ever be found is doubtful now, but a search might be in order nonetheless.

Volly had, and still has, a great respect for Jelly Roll’s musicianship. “In him,” says DeFaut, “the ego was substantiated. In fact it was just a cover-up, I think, for a real inferiority complex. He always spoke of himself in the third person. When I knew him, Jelly still had a whorehouse complex — sang dirty songs and thought they were great. Also he was still hustling pool. I remember inviting him to dinner one evening after a rehearsal or recording date and having him decline because he had two suckers waiting for him down the street. He was a shark all right! Often he and I used to rehearse together at the Melrose office. Morton was a tremendous worker. If he was working on something, he would sit there for four or five hours at a stretch. At other times we would go out together to hear some new pianist. After he had made three or four trips and was convinced he was better, Jelly would go out again and cut him. He could do it too!”

If Volly has any reservations about Jelly Roll — and they are few — Don has none about Bunk. Man and musician, he loved him only slightly this side of idolatry. Ewell, coming to New York from Baltimore, met Bunk for the first time in December of 1945 and the following spring began playing with him at the Stuyvesant Casino. Once a disciple of Morton — and as a pianist still the closest thing to Jelly that we have — Don is conducting today a quiet one-man campaign to preserve the memory of Bunk Johnson. “I never learned so much as I did from Bunk and I never got such kicks as I had with his band,” says Ewell, “no man and no band ever did more for jazz!”

According to Don, Bunk, was even greater than his band. “He could read, write, arrange. You could never fool him, for he was a thorough musician. He knew what he wanted, but not always could he get it from the rest. Not even Jim Robinson or George Lewis satisfied him altogether. He liked intricate things sometimes — the tricky rags which have since caught on and which he helped introduce — but for the most part the others were not up to such stuff.

“Yes, he knew what he wanted. He wanted jazz to be good music. What he especially wanted was a band that could take any popular number, play it in dance tempo, make it sound right — so that it could be enjoyed by everybody. He taught me, among other things, to see what a wonderful thing it is to have people out there on the dance floor following your beat. He liked to play things people knew — just like Jelly Roll, to have the melody going all the time. Unfortunately, he never had all he wanted and rarely did what he liked. He accomplished a great deal, just the same, for he started the revival on both coasts and inspired kids all over the country and showed the world how lead horn should be played!”

Note: The above article is reprinted by kind permission of Richard B. Hadlock, owner/publisher of The Record Changer.

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the following article titled, “Lord And Lion : LET THE RECORDS SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT” by John Lucas. This full-scale article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated May—June, 1965, Vol. XXI, pages 61—64, 66 and 69. Special thanks to Don Marquis and Millie Gaddini.

Lord And Lion


The University of California Press, together with Dr. Philip Pastras, Assistant Professor of English at Pasadena City College, have kindly granted permission to publish: Chapter 4 : ‘The Scrapbook’ from “Dead Man Blues — Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West”.

Dead Man Blues
Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West
by Phil Pastras

Laurie Wright has kindly granted permission to publish the following article titled: “Roger Richard talks to ALBERT NICHOLAS” by Roger Richard. This full-scale article was published in the Storyville magazine, No. 57, dated February—March 1975, pages 86—96. Special thanks to Laurie Wright, Jo Beaton and Howard Rye.

Roger Richard talks to
Albert Nicholas

Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the following article titled: “ALBERT NICHOLAS TALKS ABOUT JELLY ROLL” by William Russell. This full-scale article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated Winter, 1978, Vol. XXX, pages 34—39. Special thanks to Don Marquis, Millie Gaddini and Neil Aldridge.


Don Marquis, together with The New Orleans Jazz Club, have kindly granted me permission to publish the following article titled: “ALBERT NICHOLAS TALKS ABOUT JELLY ROLL : PART II OF AN INTERVIEW” by William Russell. This full-scale article was first published in The Second Line magazine, dated Spring, 1978, Vol. XXX, pages 3—10. Special thanks to Don Marquis, Millie Gaddini and Sonny McGown.


Michael Hill sends the following article from The Jazz Record magazine, dated October 1945, pages 5—6.

The Jazz Record

Mostly About Morton

Veteran Clarinetist, Whom Jelly Roll Preferred Above
All Others, Tells About the Good Old Days


I first met Jelly Roll in Chicago while I was with Charlie Elgar. That was Charlie Elgar’s Creole Band and we played mostly in Milwaukee. Somebody around Chicago had recommended me to Jelly Roll and he asked me to come down to make some records. We used to go to his home for rehearsals and the first time I was there, he handed me a piece called Mamamita, which had a pretty hard clarinet part. I guess he was testing me out and I knew he was pleased when I read it off at first sight. We rehearsed that tune but never did record it.

Walter Melrose brought all the music down from his music store. Morton was working for Melrose then and the pieces played were mostly all stock arrangements Jelly had made up and published by Melrose. Jelly marked out parts we liked and he always had his manuscripts there and his pencils and he was always writing and jotting little parts. Art Hodes reminds me of Jelly Roll the way he rehearses and records — pencil, paper and manuscripts and jotting down changes here and there. Jelly left our solos up to us but the backgrounds, harmony and licks were all in his arrangements. He was easy to work for and he always explained everything he wanted. He reminded me of a guy like Dizzy Dean — but he could back up anything he said. Every one liked to pick arguments with him because they liked to hear him talk and argue. Later on in New York, when swing was becoming popular, Chick Webb used to kid him — told him he didn’t know anything about jazz and asked him about New Orleans. That would start him off about being the pioneer of jazz. He was always talking about New Orleans; about Buddy Bolden, Frankie Dusen, Buddy Petit, Tony Jackson — he could take off their mannerisms on a job and he was always a comedian It was hard to keep up with him — he could talk 24 hours in a row.

We would have a couple of rehearsals at Jelly’s house before the date and Melrose would pay us $5.00 a man. That’s the only time I ever got paid for a rehearsal. Then we’d go around to the Victor studio on the north side for the recording and he’d pay us $15.00 a side, which was more than scale in those days. Technicians set the stage for the date — Jelly had to take orders there for a change — and all this time I was commuting from Milwaukee. I was with Elgar until 1927, playing at the Riverview Ballroom and the Wisconsin Roof Garden. Elgar was very popular around Milwaukee. He had a large band for that time — about twelve pieces. Darnell Howard was with him and Cliff King played clarinet. Joe Sudler was with him and he was a good trumpet player. I was playing alto and clarinet and later on I got a soprano sax so I had three instruments to carry around. We had to play dance music but Elgar featured a lot of rags and other tunes like High Society and Clarinet Marmalade. We never recorded though.

Melrose spared no expense for a record date — anything Jelly Roll wanted he got. Melrose worshipped him like a king. Jelly was great for effects as on Sidewalk Blues and Steamboat Stomp and later on like the opening on Kansas City Stomp. I had never heard anything played like that before. Jelly thought it up and anything he needed for his effects, Melrose would go out and get it. For the second date he got Darnell Howard and Barney Bigard in for the trio effect he wanted on two of the sides. I played all the clarinet part and Howard and Bigard just sat there and held their clarinets except for the few strains Jelly wanted them to play. He had a Claxton horn for Sidewalk Blues and I think it was Marty Bloom — Melrose’s partner — who did the whistling, it was supposed to be a cop’s whistle and Jelly took off the cop and Johnny St. Cyr did the other talking. They did the talking on Steamboat Stomp too. Bloom was the sound effects man. I remember on the second date, Melrose walked in with a bottle of scotch. We usually had a bottle around as the dates would be early in the, morning and we had to get our spirits up. Anyway, Jelly had two drinks and we had to stop the session for a while and open all the windows so he could get some air. He wasn’t much of a drinking man. Melrose sure got a big kick out of that.

I was still commuting from Milwaukee when the third date came up in December, 1926. On Someday Sweetheart I took a solo chorus on bass clarinet. Jelly wanted it and Melrose rented one somewhere. Took a little time to get familiar with it and I didn’t like it too much. Jelly was always fond of effects and wanted to be different. He was always trying to find something different and whatever he wanted, we would have to do. He was fussy with introductions and endings and he always wanted the ensemble his way but he never interfered with the solo work. He’d tell us where he wanted the solo or break but the rest was up to us. Some more of Jelly’s effects cropped up on the third date. He had two violins on Someday Sweetheart and I think one of them may have been Darnell Howard. He was quite prominent at that time on violin as well as on sax and clarinet. On Original Jelly Roll Blues, Johnny St. Cyr played a guitar and the drummer used castanets to give a Spanish style effect. Jelly was sure full of ideas and he used them. I remember on Dr. Jazz, the long note I played wasn’t in, the stock arrangement. Jelly liked it and had Melrose put it in the orchestration.

I didn’t see Jelly again around Chicago. I played with Elgar a while after that and left him to go with King Oliver. I had one record date with Oliver in Chicago when we made Willie The Weeper, Black Snake Blues, Every Tub, and Showboat Shuffle. I took the soprano sax solo on Willie The Weeper. Shortly after, we went to New York with Oliver, where we made a few more records. Also had a record date with Eddie Lang, Oliver and Clarence Williams at a studio in Washington Square but can’t remember the tunes. The Oliver band didn’t stick together long in New York. Ory was first to leave, then Barney Bigard and I went back west, where I played again with Elgar at the Eagle Ballroom in Milwaukee. I left him late in 1927 and went back to New York with Luis Russell, where we played at the Nest Cafe. Andy Anderson was on trumpet.

In June, 1928, Walter Melrose came to The Nest and asked me to make another record date with Jelly. Jelly had come to New York and had a band at the Rose Danceland. All the boys on the date were in his band and I was the only outsider. Russell Procope was playing sax and clarinet at the ballroom but Jelly wanted me to play on the date. Ward Pinkett, Geechie Fields and the Benford Brothers were all in his band. Pinkett was a fine trumpet player, sometimes the way he played was a lot like Mitch. All the tunes were rehearsed at the Rose Danceland — Georgia, Swing Kansas City Stomp and the others and he wanted to make a trio side too. He said Dodds had been making a lot of records and Benny Goodman was starting in and with everybody soloing, he wanted to give me a chance to show myself. He wanted me to work in his band too but I didn’t go until Fall and then only worked one week. He paid me $75.00 a week and wanted me to stay but the job was a taxi-dance hall and it was too hard. We’d play for fifty minutes in a row and rest ten minutes. I had a chance to work for Erskine Tate in his pit band at the Metropolitan Theater in Chicago and could be with my family there. That was good experience too as I had to play all kinds of music with Tate.

I saw Jelly a couple of more times but never played with him again. Once on a one nighter with Earl Hines band somewhere in Maryland, Jelly came over to see me. The last time I saw Jelly was in Washington at the Howard Theater. He came back stage and said he was going to organize a band again and wanted me to come with him. He had a club in Washington then and wanted to cook me some red beans and rice. I’m sorry now that I couldn’t make it.

Michael Hill sends the following article from The Jazz Record magazine, dated February 1944, No. 17, pages 8—10.

The Jazz Record

“Oh, Mr. Jelly!”

By Charles Edward Smith

Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton, born 1885 in New Orleans, Louisiana, was one of the great jazz pioneers. Throughout his life he gave unstinting praise to some of the jazzmen who preceded, and inspired him, among them: Buddy Bolden, first king of jazz cornet; Porter King, leading pianist of the Gulf Coast and inspiration for “King Porter Stomp”; Louis Chauvin, king of the St. Louis ragtime pianists; and, above all, Tony Jackson, pianistic master of everything from “Opera to the blues” whom Jelly aptly described as “the world’s greatest single-handed entertainer.” Jelly’s world was the world of honky tonk and sporting house. A great composer, he derived little profit from his numerous compositions — a fate that he shared with most Negro composers from Scott Joplin on. A man of great personal charm and dignity, Jelly made friends slowly but once a friendship was established it had depth and permanence. When Jelly died in 1941 there appeared in print, several apocryphal stories that made him to appear a boaster, if not a charlatan. None of his friends thought these worth replying to for Jelly’s life, like his music, speaks for itself. Here is a small fragment of that life.

“I’ve been working on some plans. I wish you’d come in with me on this. I got an idea it’s big, very big.” The curtains on the U Street windows stirred gently and the warm, damp air of the Washington summer billowed in upon us, hanging like a vapor over the bare tabletops in the too-brightly lit room. Jelly smiled tentatively, as though not quite sure one would fall in with his plans. “I considered this proposition a long time,” he added.

The smile was characteristic of Jelly. Maybe not the Mr. Jelly Lord of the 1920’s when a Cadillac and a diamond-filled tooth were understatement, but still Mr. Jelly Lord, even though only a small handful of the jazz world knew, or cared, that he was alive. It was that smile and not the big talk that was Jelly.

Ten years before he had been on top. A long decade! Poverty, illness and at times a pessimism that amounted to premonition. He had known poverty before, in the hard and hopeless environment of the Gulf Coast. But something held him up in those days, no matter how hard the luck came. He was young and the world was still his jug. He could play pool on the side (whether well, or badly didn’t matter) and he could make his way from honky tonk to honky tonk, confident that when be reached St. Louis he could “take” everyone but Tony Jackson.

Jelly helped to build a world, only to find, in his last years, that there seemed to be no place for him in it. That was how it was when he came to that upstairs cabaret on U Street, where most of his own customers didn’t know who he was. His own tunes had been pirated, or were used without benefit to him for at that time he was still fighting for his ASCAP button. He had no band and no offers for solo work. So he mixed malicious drinks in the back room for generally lethargic clientele.

The sell-out guys jazz, meanwhile, were getting ahead. Jelly tried to convince himself that commercialism in music and music-making was artistic; he quoted, almost verbatim, the nation of some music magazines that, ironically have fought and still fight all that Jelly stands for in jazz. Because no one with Jelly’s sincerity and background could actually go commercial.

The conviction wasn’t real but there were times when he tried to make it stick. In such moods born of his failure in worldly terms, he would come up with pseudo-pop songs and grandiose ideas, such as the one, he proposed to me that hot July night. We would, he explained, plan a series of Juke Box recordings. That was where the money was. Fifty thousand Juke Boxes couldn’t be wrong!

I thought of the Juke Box there on U Street and what had happened to it during the course of my Washington sojourn. At first there were few records of any merit in it. Then the influence of small circle of Washington jazz fans began to tell and the neighborhood kids didn’t know what to make of it; they complained about the corny old tunes on the Juke Box — Wolverine Blues, Beale Street Blues, Honky Tonk Train, The Pearls.

And Jelly was torn again. What the kids wanted was not jazz. “They don’t know nothing about jazz,” Jelly would say emphatically. But they represented “public.” Ten, minutes later Jelly would play one of his new “pop” songs, watching one for its effect. “Ain’t it a kind of pretty thing?” — and you could see Jelly clutching for straws so that it was hard to say, what one had to say, “Jelly, I like the old tunes best. You know that. And you could do more like them.”

Once in a while, if he felt especially bad, he would mutter, “No one wants that stuff any more.” But his hands would be on the keyboard, feeling for the past. And in those moments he forgot the little compensations with which he’d tried to push aside the big frustrations. Apologetically, he would loosen the patterned tie on the starched striped shirt. “Man, I believe it’s warm tonight,” and Mr. Jelly Lord smiled, with that world again in a jug and the stopper in his hand. That was generally time for a drink for his friends and a sip of sherry for himself. “I can’t drink, you know.” Then: “What’s that, one of the old ones? Well, this is no doubt one of the oldest, this one has whiskers.” That way the evening got ripe and the unknowing customers, if any were present, looked on, cynically ignorant but aware that Mr. Jelly Lord was not to be tampered with.

Without always being conscious of it, that small group of Washington jazz fans who encouraged Jelly, helped him immeasurably to resume his title and place in jazz. “I don’t know what I’d do if a few friends didn’t drop in. People don’t know the old jazz any more.” So it was good to talk old time and say flatteringly “Your friend really knows. Say, listen to him talk about Buddy Bolden.” Then Jelly would go back to the piano again.

I recall evenings with mixed groups (that were permissible in so few places in Washington), a bunch of us gathered about the spinet-piano, Jelly tossing off blues verses and goading Sterling Brown of Howard University into singing a few. I can remember Jelly telling a crowded, fidgety Union benefit audience, most of whom wanted to dance, that he would enlighten them with a resume of jazz history, beginning with Buddy Bolden. Many members of the exclusive Jelly Roll Club, such as Nesuhi Ertegun, I knew of then only by hearsay. Jelly was increasingly proud of his fans. One day at the Howard Theater I corralled Sidney Bechet and we went up the creaking stairs. Jelly’s wife happened to be in the place and the effusive greetings in Creole put New Orleans on the map all over again.

There was a lot more of that, all helping Jelly to realize once more his place in jazz and helping to undo some of the damage to his ego. And for those people Jelly’s wistful and wishful build-up (“Inventor of Jazz, Stomps and Swing”) fell away; he was able to think of himself, as they thought of him, a great jazz pianist and composer, a great jazz pioneer.

That’s the way it was when Jelly recorded his amazing documentary series for the Library of Congress. If it irks connoisseurs that these records are not yet available to the public, it might be some consolation to consider that without them Jelly would not have been prepared to do his own best memorial, the General album. His fingers were often stiff and his heart wasn’t pumping the way it should, yet many times during that period Jelly remarked how good it felt to play that way. The studio was a small room off a corridor behind the Music Section at the Library of Congress. When he was warmed up he played with all his old-time fervor. That was the way he felt when he made his piano solo of Wolverine Blues. I thought of his own explanation of his style:

“My theory is to never dischord (discard) the melody. Always have the melody going some kind of way, and of course your background should always be with perfect harmony, and what is known to-day as riffs, meaning figures — musically speaking, it is figures.” His head was over the keyboard now, his right hand reaching for the treble. He said, “Oh, Mr. Jelly!”

I left Washington in August, 1939, and went up to Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, to do some writing. While there I got a note from Alan Lomax telling me that Gordon Mercer might like to do an album of Jelly’s piano and singing, and that he had recommended that I supervise and do the booklet.

Shortly thereafter I received a letter from Jelly. There was, he informed me, “a subject of mutual benefit,” that he hoped I would discuss with him at my convenience. This was also characteristically Jelly — the letter, I mean. It was formal, couched in a stiff and naively elegant English. And if it concerned business, as did this, it invariably had an air, of mystery about it. Had I not heard from Alan and Gordon, I might have anticipated a new campaign against the Juke Boxes.

By the time the album project was a settled thing, Gordon Mercer was with General and we had the facilities of the Reeves Sound Studios to work with. This was a wonderful break, as was the wholehearted co-operation given us. But before we went into the studio I had several sessions with Jelly at his place in Harlem. The money we would get out of it would obviously not compensate for the work involved so we decided to have a hell of a good time and do an album that would be an honest projection of Jelly and his background.

The way we worked it out was necessarily informal. Usually Jelly sat at the grand piano but if he didn’t feel up to playing (and being in extremely ill health, he often didn’t) we sat and talked and I took notes. After a couple of hours of this Mrs. Morton would bring on shrimps and rice, or something else that recalled New Orleans. Once Jelly excused himself before meal-time and I realized that on that occasion he had had a hand in the cooking, as he often had had in Washington when his friends dropped into the cabaret.

We settled on the tunes right there in that apartment off upper Seventh Avenue. When we walked into the studio we had the album in order, backings and all, with a couple of substitutes on hand in the event we had to fight it out. We didn’t. The album went through as planned. The tests thrown out (none of them accessible now) consisted of an infamous Tiger Rag, an equally infamous Animal (Animule) Ball, and a Sporting House Rag that didn’t come off. We used as many as four waxes on certain sides, because Jelly was really ill at this time and we took a few sessions to complete the job. At Jelly’s request I sat in the studio with him as he recorded and I thought at the time I was going through at least as many crises as was he. On Winin’ Boy Blues, for example, he closed his eyes on the humming passage. The clock was climbing up towards the three-minute mark. Gordon and the engineers motioned me frantically to nudge Jelly. I didn’t. It was too good. Besides, I didn’t dare. Jelly opened his eyes slowly and murmured “Oh, Mamie,” as the number came to its close.

In making up the album Jelly and I put Mamie’s Blues first. An official of the company nodded his agreement. It was the right thing to do. It wasn’t commercially sensible because a number like that would not sell the album, he said. Mamie’s Blues was listened to in Harlem by a younger-generation pianist and Mrs. Morton repeated his remark, “Yeah,” he had said, “but why does he play that one-finger piano?” Jelly’s face darkened and he said to his wife, “Don’t you know when to keep quiet?” Then he shut up himself, and looked a little old and tired. A week later Time magazine devoted its music column to Jelly’s beautiful blues about a certain Mamie Desdume (Desdunes), who played a walking bass and had two fingers missing from her left hand.

Brian Goggin sends the following article from the Jazz Forum magazine, dated Autumn 1947, No. 5, pages 16—17.


Lightning Strikes Twice

by Harrison Smith

The picture NEW ORLEANS which stars Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, with Armstrong, Ory, Bigard, Beale, Scott, Singleton and Callender featured as “The Original Ragtime Band” is currently showing at the historic Winter Gardens here, recalling 1918 (1915) when the Original Creole Band¹ got it’s (its) “Big time” start there. The building was originally Studebaker’s Wagon Factory and Horse Market and I can recall the time, around 1910, when the building with the original wall still intact was transformed into a beautiful and spacious theatre.

Bert Williams, Al Jolson, Shelton Brooks, Sophie Tucker, Florence Mills, Phil Baker and hundreds of other famous personalities played there in musical comedy productions and vaudeville presentations. Each Sunday night, the management presented ten vaudeville attractions and the spot became the most important showcase for artists who desired to show their acts to the booking managers of various circuits covering the U.S.A. from Coast to Coast. The most important of these being Keith, Orpheum and Loew, the artists managers naturally did all they could to get their charges booked on one of these circuits. The spot was the goal and artists gambled for one to five years work, and often gladly brushed off thoughts of payments for the single performance involved, and they were considered very lucky to be included in the selected ten acts. If an artist could procure a route he could mortgage his contract for a home, a car or a diamond ring!

The late Harry Weber, foremost manager of the era, who managed Shelton Brooks, Miller & Lyles, The Tennessee Ten — a jazz band act, featuring the then upcoming Florence Mills — ‘Slow Kid’ Thompson and Curtis Mosby, got one of these dates for the Creole Band, who came, played and conquered. A repeat date sewed up an Orpheum Circuit tour for the unit at $800 per week
[,] which was a lot of money for a band in those days. In addition to many midwest cities, the band played in Indianapolis, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Frisco, Los Angeles, (and) Oakland dovetailing into other cities for a return date in Chicago. Upon its return to New York City, Weber placed the band with Ned Wayburn’s revue Town Topics — a production similar to the old Ziegfield (Ziegfeld) Follies with a cast of one hundred headed by Bonita and Lew Hearn, fabulous ‘Gay 90’s’ stars. The revue played on the roof of the nations first million dollar theatre, the Century Theatre, which was situated at Central Park West and 60th Street, right off Broadway, facing the renowned Central Park. In that era, roof gardens were a vogue, some others being Hammerstein’s, Garden de Paris, Ziegfield’s (Ziegfeld’s), the Majestic Theatre, Reisenweber’s, Hotel Astor and Hotel McAlpin. When it rained the performances were carried on indoors. Important Century Theatre productions were Aphrodite, Joseph and his Brethren and The Waltz Dream — all spectacular ones. Mere words cannot describe the beauty of the Century Theatre, since demolished and at present an apartment house site. The Ziegfield (Ziegfeld) is its nearest present day approach.

The Winter Gardens, leased by the picture producers at the rate of one thousand dollars a day, offer a good ‘shot in the arm’ for the good of jazz. There is an immense electric sign covering half of the front of the building, which covers seventy-five per cent of the block, which must have cost at least fifty thousand dollars. Posters ballyhoo Storyville’s ‘18 blocks of sin dives!’ Others invite one in to see them while photos show crib girls smiling and looking their prettiest. A wheezy phonograph grinds out the theme song Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans. It seems tough that Storyville takes all the rap for sin dives, since many other cities have them. By ballyhooing the Original Ragtime Band it appears that some energetic press agent is trying to confuse the public that this is the same as the Original Creole Band. Right across the street at the Capitol, M.G.M. is ballyhooing likewise, Lena Horne’s third appearance in person at the theatre. Lena’s side of the street gets the most traffic, so it appears that she will get the most business. Her ballyhoo may help plug my new tune Lena.

The Winter Gardens building has a large night club room on the balcony floor, which has had many names — the most famous being The Plantation, and the most recent The Zanzibar, No. 1. In 1924 it was the Plantation and featured Florence Mills, Shelton Brooks, and Will Vodery’s band with the famous Johnny Dunn — first top money ‘trump card’ who got $150 per week plus recording fees. The revue was later presented in London as Dixie to Dover and in Paris as The Blackbirds. In 1926 The Plantation featured Ethel Waters and Duke Ellington’s band, the latter featuring my tune Lil Farina which they recorded for Gennett. Later, I presented Duke in leading theatres prior to the Kentucky Club and Cotton Club dates. I did my darndest in 1926 to get Jimmy Wade to accept one of the showcase dates but the Club Alabam manager objected for fear of his losing Wade’s band. However, I placed Wade with Gennett.

The historians who write about success of the ODJB at Reisenweber’s, which was a spot not comparable to the Winter Gardens or Century Theatre, do not know that jazz bands played Reisenweber’s ten years before the ODJB. Some of the bands were Jim Europe’s, Tim Brymn’s, the Royal Poincians 5, The Right Quintette, Sophie Tucker and her Jazz Band with Dick Himber and Earl Fuller’s with Ted Lewis. Back in those days syncopation was called swing through the advent of Will Marion Cook’s classic Swing Along Chillun’ which along with Shine (That’s Why They Call Me Shine) was featured in William(s) & Walker’s musical comedy Bandanna Land which ran on Broadway for three months in 1907. I have a Victor record of Swing Along Chillun’ made by a quartette many years ago and it evinces that swing is not a new novelty. First it was ragtime, then jazz and swing, and now it’s be-bop, but there is a trend towards the return to ragtime, since Hollywood interests find it their business to put out the large electric sign to which I referred. These people are not dopes and always throw a ‘seven.’ In line with Ragtime, I hope to publish two of Jelly Roll Morton’s favourites soon Notoriety Rag and Diamond Jim. I have a band record of the first number but the second has never been published. In passing, I must mention that I have a Brunswick record of St. Louis Tickler (Tickle) (Rag) which is exactly the same as Buddy Bolden(’s) Blues and wonder which was created first.

Others making jazz history in New York City around 1918 were Jimmy Durante’s Jazz Band, Joe Perry’s Hot Dog’s (5), Vincent Lopez’ Jazz Band, Bill Brown and his Brownies, and bands led by Dan Kildaire, Bill Hamilton, Jack Hatton and Cordy Williams. Hatton, John C. Smith and ‘Cricket’ Smith were all ‘trump cards’ and were outstanding. Frank Withers was then trombone king. My old friend Bill Tyers, a very dignified gent, who for years was top arranger for REMICK, would turn over in his grave if he could hear the bands slaughtering his beautiful idyll Panama the way they do to-day. He composed the tune in 1909 for Aida Overton Walker and her Panama Girls — a famous vaudeville act. Panama, like Tyers’ Maori and Admiration, should be a sweet tune. It is amusing to note the following ‘good ole New Orleans tunes’ composed in New York’s Tin Pan Alley: Shine, Panama, Ballin’ The Jack, Strut Miss Lizzie, Way Down South in New Orleans, I’ve Found a New Baby, Turtle Twist, That’ll Never Do, Smilin’ the Blues Away, My Little Dixie Home and Oh, Didn’t He Ramble.

Rudi Blesh is ‘just carryin’ on’ with his Circle records, his So This Is Jazz programme which is carried over four hundred stations in North and South America and Canada, his Riverboat Excursions which are repeated twice weekly to a capacity audience of three hundred and by the release of the late Jelly Roll Morton Library of Congress recordings. Tonight (June 27, 1947) he is presenting Chippie Hill, James P. Johnson, Albert Nicholas, Danny Barker, Pops Foster, Wild Bill Davison, Baby Dodds and Montana Taylor in a concert at the Ziegfield (Ziegfeld) Theatre, the proceeds of which will go to a benefit fund for Spanish refugees. This achievement is comparable to that of the aforementioned Weber’s. HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF.

¹ Note: For detailed information about the Original Creole Band, as mentioned in the article above, readers are recommended to consult the book: Pioneers of Jazz: The Story of the Creole Band by Prof. Lawrence Gushee.

Derek Coller sends the following article from the Record Research magazine, dated January—February 1957, Vol. 2, No. 5, Issue 11, page 9.

Record Research



To have known and worked with Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton for many years beginning way back in Jelly’s Gennett days, was an experience to beat all experiences. To love the guy, to hate the guy, to call him a snob, saint, sinner, prevaricator, genius was all in a day’s work. Yet his years on this earth will be remembered by all of us who love hot jazz[,] as the fabulous ‘Jelly’ was one of its pioneering disciples. Your writer has some interesting reminiscences about Jelly.


In my hectic association with Jelly Roll I found him not to be an originator of tunes[,] but a great improviser and embellisher.

Here is a list of tunes with their original titles and composers before Jelly changed them to Morton compositions.


Original title

Turtle Walk

(Tosh Hammed & Ben Garrison)

Jelly changed it to:

Turtle Twist
(Vi 38108)

Original title

You Taught Me How To Love

(Billie Ross)

Jelly changed it to:

Mushmouth Shuffle
(Vi 23004)

Original title

I Know Something Now (That I Didn’t Know Before)

(Gene Back)

Jelly changed it to:

Oil Well
*  (Vi 23321)

* Reason behind this title is that your writer had some shares in Standard Oil at this time and Jelly used to jokingly call me ‘Oil Well.’

¹ This is Gene Buck (1885-1957) who was president of ASCAP from 1924 to 1941. He started in the music business as a designer of sheet music covers, eventually working as a designer-director for Florenz Ziegfeld.

Original title

Aunty, Got A Border Now
(Charley Pearson)

Jelly changed it to:

Primrose Stomp
(Vi 23424)

Original title

Sing A Little Song Each Day

(Harrison Smith - Ben Garrison)

Jelly changed it to:

Each Day
* (Vi 23351)

* This title I contend to be the greatest Jelly Roll recorded. Jelly had everything. I am at present modernizing the score and have renamed it ‘Mortonia.’

Original title

(There’s Nothin’ Funny About That) That’s Like It Oughta Be

(Harrison Smith - Ben Garrison)

Jelly changed it to:

That’s Like It Oughta Be
(Vi 38601)

Original title

Ne Var

(Roy Evans and Harrison Smith)

Jelly changed it to:

That’ll Never Do
(Vi 23019)

Original title

(I’m Always) “Sharing You”

(Hector Marchese)

Jelly changed it to:

Strokin’ Away
* (Vi 23351)

* I’m Always Sharing You (Hector Marchese) was released as Ponchatrain Blues (sic) (Vi 38125).

* Kisses From You (Hector Marchese) was released as Strokin’ Away (Vi 23351).

Note: See corrections to the above items in the following article titled: Debunking Jelly Roll by Harrison Smith, Record Research, dated June - July 1957, Vol. 3, No. 1, Issue 13, page 5.


Original title

Majestic Stomp
(Hector Marchese)

Jelly changed it to:

Blue Blood Blues
(Vi 22681)

* Originally featured by Arnold Johnson and his Majestic Hour Radio Orch. over the NBC Network coast to coast. This was the theme song. The composer, Hector Marchese was a star sax player with the Johnson organization. Russ Morgan was featured.


Advocates of Jelly inseparably associate him with the red-hot jazz school. However it was my thrill to hear Jelly & his orchestra at the Roseland (125th and 7th Ave.—3rd floor, no longer operative) play one the most beautiful sweet renditions of “Sweetheart Of Sig Ma (Sigma) Chi” . . . This was in 1928 and Jelly had such excellent jazzmen as Lewis (Louis) Metcalf, Paul Bacon, Walter Thomas, George Bacquet (Baquet), Albert Nicholas, to name some, in this aggregation. A most peculier (peculiar) incident grew out of this engagement. An advertizing salesman of ‘Variety’ approached a preoccupied Jelly with the intention of securing an ad. This was accomplished by Jelly signing a contract form. However[,] Jelly neglected to read a small print type in the contract[,] which indicated to the advertizer that he would have to notify the media by registered mail if he wished to discontinue the ad.

Jelly remained at this hall just a month or so. The ad ran for 64 weeks. There was quite a hassle in order to collect from Jelly.



How could Jelly Roll Morton at 16 ever work in Lulu White’s cabaret since he left at 16 and never returned to New Orleans? How could Bill Johnson be Jelly Roll’s brother-in-law since Jelly never married anyone. Bill Johnson never married any of Jelly’s sisters and Jelly never married any of Bill’s sisters.


Morton had an infectious laugh[,] which you could never forget. I remember Jelly laughing off several offers[,] which may have effected (affected) his career and perhaps would have added another page of history to the growing jazz archives. Here are two episodes.

Ex-Champion pugilist, Jack Johnson begged Jelly Roll in 1928 to let him front JR’s band. Jack played great bullfiddle. Jelly just laughed it off.

Bill McKinney of Cotton Pickers’ fame begged Jelly Roll to make arrangements for the band. Jelly just laughed it off.



Many publishers including Mills, Shapiro Bernstein, Von Tilzer turned down Morton’s tune as junk but how they would like to have them now.


One of Morton’s fabulous claims is that he wrote the all time pops standard ‘Blue Room.’

JELLY ROLL IN 1932/1933

In 1932, I produced “Headin’ For Harlem,” a musical comedy starring Lillyn Brown, (who’s tintype appeared in the last issue of RR) and she engaged ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton as her pianist for a tour of New England. After the tour Jelly joined Laura Prampin’s Orchestra at the short lived Savoy Ballroom, Coney Island, N.Y. This was really a noisy place as it was located above a trolley car depot barn. The clang of the trolley bells and the clatter of the wheels use to give Jelly and the drummer fits.


I have a copy of Jelly’s will[,] which specifically states that his estate and property belongs to Anita Gonzales exclusively and as I study same I wonder how anyone can claim exclusive rights to her property as well as exclusive rights to PD tunes contained in the U.S. Government’s P.D. recordings[,] which are circulated upon request. Here is the text of the will.

FILE 208/148






                             FERDINAND J. MORTON




Note: Also see following article titled: Debunking Jelly Roll by Harrison Smith, Record Research magazine, dated June—July 1957, Vol. 3, No. 1, Issue 13, page 5.

Note: Also see in-depth article titled: Jelly Roll Morton – Plagiarist? by Björn Englund.

Note: Also see detailed listings on the Jelly Roll Morton Copyrights & Compositions page.

Derek Coller sends the following article from the Record Research magazine, dated June—July 1957, Vol. 3, No. 1, Issue 13, page 5.

Record Research




None of the following supposedly Morton compositions were authored or composed by Jelly Roll Morton (Review & additions to what appeared in my “‘Fablelous’ Jelly” page, RR # 10 (# 11), p. 9.)

Don’t Tell Me Nothing ’Bout My Man
(Smith & Garrison)

Recorded by Lizzie Miles (Vi 38571) who was managed by this writer.

Smilin’ The Blues Away
(Smith & Garrison) Bob Cloud - arr.

previously recorded by Adrian Schubert Orch. for Plaza group of labels. Jelly recorded it on (Vi 38108).

My Little Dixie Home
(Smith & Garrison)

previously recorded by organization for the Plaza group of labels and also by the Grand Central Redcaps Quartet for Columbia. It was by Jelly on (Vi 38601).

Turtle Walk
(Hammed & Garrison)

Jelly Roll changed it to Turtle Twist (Vi 38108).

Hammed was the composer of such tunes as Decatur Street Blues, Wonder Where My Sweet Daddy Gone, Let Every Day Be Mother’s Day.

That’s Like It Oughta Be (Vi 38601).
(Evans & Smith)

Originally recorded by Roy Evans as Sammy Cloud for Grey Gull group.

Sing A Little Song Each Day

released as Each Day
(Vi 23351) new re-copyrighted title “Mortonia.”

(Gee I Be Happy)
If Someone Would Only Love Me
(Vi 23321)
(Smith & Garrison)

That’ll Nevah’ Do  (comic Song) (Vi 23109)
(Smith & Garrison)

I’m Looking For A Little Bluebird (Vi 23004)
(Smith & Garrison)

All Girls Are Beautiful Girls
(Smith & Garrison)

released as Gambling Jack (Vi 23307)

Kisses From You
(Hector Marchese)

Jelly Roll made it ‘Strokin’ Away’ (Vi 23351)

* This corrects an inadvertent error which appeared in my Fablelous Jelly article. RR # 10 (# 11), p. 9, 1st column.

I’m Always Sharing You
(Hector Marchese)

released as ‘Ponchatrian Blues’ (sic) (Vi 38125)

* This corrects an inadvertent error which appeared in my Fablelous Jelly article. RR # 10 (# 11), p. 9, 1st column.

Honeymoon Farm
(Ben Garrison)

became Harmony Blues (Vi 38135)

Sweet Substitute

(released on) (General 1703)

Just A Lonely Echo
(Smith & Garrison)

released as Fickle Fay Creep (Vi 23019)

The Old Swimming Hole
(Hector Marchese)

became Swingin’ The Elks (General 1711)

Jelly did not write the following either:

Someday Sweetheart (Spikes); Milenberg Joys (Rappolo (Roppolo), Mares etc.); King Porter Stomp (King Porter) (Porter King); Mamie’s Blues (Mamie Destune) (Desdunes); My Home Is In A Southern Town (Johnny Lee Long); Don’t You Leave Me Here (Alabama Blues).


Note: Ben Garrison, a ghost writer for Jelly Roll Morton, was formerly a staff arranger for Fields-Hall, Clarence Williams, etc. He was a native of Columbia, South Carolina.


W. C. Handy utilized Jelly Roll’s Incomparables for a broadcast out of Chicago in 1924. The announcer said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, You have just heard W. C. Handy and his famous Memphis Band.” Jelly Roll, standing by disgusted and thinking that the broadcast was terminated, yelled out ‘modestly’ for the world to hear, — “Like Hell You Have!”


Certain people have depicted Morton sitting at a piano with a bottle stop, but Jelly Roll never drank anything but milk, and I never saw him smoke anything.


Jelly Roll was a ‘time’ man, being very punctual, had many likeable ways and many lousy ways. He had the bad habit of threatening anybody he disagreed with, with his 44. Whether he had one I do not know. It’s surprising nobody ever beat him to the threat.


Lots of people claim the title, WININ’ BOY is associated with some of his past activities as a wine server in some of the Storyville ‘charm’ schools. The fact is that Jelly Roll was nick-named WHININ’ BOY because of the tonation of his voice.


While walking along a New York street with Jelly Roll, the drivers of coal trucks and moving vans etc., many of them who had not seen him in many years in various parts of the country, would yell out “hello Jelly Roll.” They all recognized the famous Morton shuffle.
* It was amusing to hear them holler, “Hey Jelly” or “Remember Me!” Everybody remembered him but he didn’t remember them.

* Morton Shuffle was a characteristic that Jelly developed from operating his left foot on the piano pedal.


When you windowshopped with Jelly, he wanted everything he saw and he used to whine, “Anytime that I can’t get Florshein shoes, bury me.” Jelly was just overloaded with verbosity.


It was a sad day in January of 1930 when the finance company grabbed his $6000 Lincoln car because of the matter of $1000 loan on it a year previous had slipped Jelly’s memory. With no car to transport his band, he was really hot and since the gang at the Rhythm Club: Chick Webb, Jimmy Harrison, Kaiser Marshall, Fess Williams, Ben Garrison, Bill Robinson and all the others gave him the horse laugh ’cause he was hoofin’ and no longer on “rubber,” he stole 28 songs, most of them listed here, and got $700 which redeemed his car. Then it was his turn to laugh at the gang because he was on “rubber” again. The way he got the compositions was: he proposed to be president, nominal head and editor of the new ‘Morton Music Comp.’ Pending the incorporation of the new concern, several people submitted compositions for recording consideration but the finance company bursted up that dream. So when the party who had lent Morton $700 for which the compositions were securities, heard that he purchased stolen property he confiscated the car for his loan. So there were two confiscations in one month and Jelly was again without “rubber” and the gang had the last laugh. Webb used to call him corny to get his goat. They called him a Chicago foreigner invading their territory. Jelly Roll hated all of them and none of them would work for him and that’s why the recording personnels at this time were so different.


I do not know why Gennett or Edison never released my sessions cut by Frances Hereford and Jelly Roll in 1928. All the recording people seemed to be pleased. Frances was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She was ‘A Bronze Goddess.’ Frances was a former Chicago church soloist before she left a happy home for a ‘life with Jelly.’ This was the first time that Gennett’s New York staff had ever seen or met Jelly. They gave him a grand reception. Perhaps the fact that they could only use Frances’ name and not Jelly Roll’s on the records (due to JR’s contract with Victor) was a factor that the companies could not consider.


It was strange that in the year of 1950 that both Lulu White (she’s the New Orleans legend that the historians speak of in glowing terms) and Anita Gonzales, (Jelly’s beloved comforter, companion and helpmate for many years) made their first visit to NYC to see the big town. Anita was Fats Pichon’s guest at the Hurricane and Lulu and her family were Spencer Williams’ guests at Radio City Music Hall. Historians have repeatedly stated that Lulu is a Creole but Spencer says she is Polish. Spencer ought to know. She is his aunt. His mother was her sister.

Note: Also see preceding article titled: The ‘Fablelous’ Jelly Roll by Harrison Smith, Record Research magazine, dated June—July 1957, Vol. 3, No. 1, Issue 13, page 5.

Note: Also see in-depth article titled: Jelly Roll Morton – Plagiarist? by Björn Englund.

Note: Also see detailed listings on the Jelly Roll Morton Copyrights & Compositions page.

Derek Coller sends the following article from the Record Research magazine, dated October 1961, Issue 38, pages 1 and 20.

Record Research

Jelly Roll Morton



“Jelly Roll” Morton by having resided for more than 12 years in New York City established legal status as a resident of the City and State, contrary to the fact, that his ‘death-bed will’ prepared for him to sign, bears certification, made under oath, that he was a resident of the City of Los Angeles, State of California, where he died, during a 7 month visit, to ascertain possibility of acquiring any estate his deceased grandmother* might have left.

His car’s N.Y.C. license plates bore more testimony to proper status of his legal residence.

The lawyer, who devised the will, made himself executor of the Estate of Ferdinand J. Morton, and by the procedure, made it possible, to collect remuneration of 15% commission, and ‘expenses’ for his duties re: same. Estate covered royalties from publications, records and Ascap (ASCAP) fees from public performances of Jelly’s compositions.

Photostat copy of the will shows Jelly designated, Mrs. Anita Johnson-Gonzales-Ford, described as ‘his beloved comforter, companion and helpmate for many years’ as principal legatee, and made meagre bequests to his 2 sisters, to whom he was very devoted.

Click to enlarge

In discussing the matter, with his sister, Mrs. Frances Morton Oliver, she advised, that she didn’t know he had died until after his burial, and in view of her financial contributions in his behalf, she could not reconcile herself to the authenticity of the will, which only bequeath her ‘the written sum of one dollar!’

Mrs. Oliver is a beautiful, tall woman and greatly resembles Jelly. I advised her that if she too could play the piano as ‘Jelly’s Sister,’ she make fine attraction and money maker. I understand she’s ‘well fixed.’

Mrs. Ford, sister of the famed Bill Johnson, and Jelly were sweethearts in the days of their youth, when she authored ‘Dead man Blues’ and he dedicated ‘Sweet Anita Mine’ & ‘Mama Nita’ to her, and until his return to L.A. they had not seen each other for over 21 years. During the intervening years, she married twice and had children. At the time the will devised it appears that she was still married to Ford, with whom she operated a motel.

Presentation of the will for probate purpose to Surrogate’s section of Superior Court, of L.A., resulted in no one protesting alleged claim of Jelly being a resident of the City and State, and such being the case, acceptance was made of the claim as authentic information, and the will was probated as valid.

Time marched on. Mrs. Ford and the lawyer ‘Caught up with Jelly’ and irony of the matter is now Mrs. Ford’s daughter — whom Jelly never saw — claims executrixship of his estate, by being executrix of her mother’s estate, which in turn, was originally Jelly’s, much to chagrin of Jelly’s sisters, and Mabel, who after 12 years was left behind in N.Y.C. when he went to L.A.

Deep were the roots of love planted by Jelly and Anita during their youthful days, long ago.

Finale: ‘Dead Man Blues.’

Note: Harrison Smith was a partner in a music publishing business with Jelly Roll in New York in 1930, which ended in a bitter and acrimonious dispute. To avoid any prospect of a libel action, he was referred to in Mister Jelly Roll as the West Indian. [MJR 223] Smith was born in Washington D.C. on 15th May 1893, and was not, so far as we are aware, connected with the West Indies. He was minor song-plugger in New York for many years. He died in Brooklyn, New York in September 1982. [PH 4]

* Harrison Smith is actually referring to Jelly Roll’s godmother, Laura Hunter (Eulalie Hécaud).

Derek Coller sends the following article from the Record Research magazine, dated January 1962, Issue 40, page 11.

Record Research


By Harrison Smith

Great interest has been manifested by the fold-up of the zillion dollar Music Corporation of America, which is abandoning top position in field of talent management.

In 1926, I was a member of the Arthur Spizzi Syndicate, talent management and booking organization. Among our attractions were: Fred Waring, Tommy Christian, ‘The Ingenues’ (24 chicks), Art Landry, Duke Yellman, Paul Specht, Whitey Kaufman, Al Lynn, Isham Jones, Vincent Lopez, Angelo & Felix Ferdinando, Frank Silvers, the composer, & His ‘Yes, We have No Bananas’ & Duke’s Washingtonians, which under my management played its very stage engagement, at Liberty Theatre, Pittsburgh, prior to ‘discovery of Duke’ by Irving Mills, Kentucky & Cotton Club engagements. Among others were Sybil Sanderson Fagan, famed bird whistle entertainer, ‘Ban-joe’ Wallace, Creatore & His Band, and in 1928, we booked Barney Rapp & Benny Pollack’s Orks. Latter’s engagement at Park Central, resulted in ‘stepping stone’ for Glenn Miller and others.

That year, our feathers got ruffled by a fledgling organization appearing on the horizon. It was called Music Corporation of America, and was organized by Ernie Young, who’d made a lot of dough managing Sadie Beck, who, as Sally Rand, was famous for her fan dance specialties. First ork employed by Young was: ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton & His ‘Red Hot Peppers.’ It played lots of college dates for a build-up for Publix-Paramount Theatres Circuit, mostly in mid-west cities. Ork was actually Charlie Crowder’s and featured Dave nelson, great trump card, and possibly Joe Darensbourg, clary, now with King Louis, as replacement for Barney Bigard. To ballyhoo engagement at Balaban & Katz Theatre, ‘Jelly’ drove a horse drawn hearse thru principal streets and stopped all traffic, with sign on hearse, listing ‘Dead Man Blues,’ ‘King Porter Stomp’ & other tunes featured by ork at the theatre. Since Crowder was actual boss and Jelly was getting headline billing and taking all the bows from great applause, there was no feeling of ‘brotherly love’ between them. Regardless of Young’s cut on deal, ork only got about 1 grand per week. The Creole Band never made the hit that Jelly’s did, and ‘Variety,’ bible of show biz, raved over it. In eagerness, to play circuit Jelly must have underestimated how far a grand would go, after paying personnel, transportation & incidentals. However he got back in payments of commission to organization, and longed to be back in dance hall field. He said: He had ability to keep one eye on ork and count payees attending dances. After about 3 months he ‘cut out’ and ork fell apart. MCA replaced same with one, called Marlow Hardy’ Alabamians, which may have been a created name, since I hadn’t heard of him before, or since MCA promotion of name. Jelly said artists painted his facial features in posters to ballyhoo Hardy! Having tasted such sweet fame, Jelly and Ed Fishman, a booker, who looked like he was Whiteman’s twin brother, set up enterprise, called Orchestra Corporation of America, determined to put MCA ‘on the skids.’ Fishman, now deceased, booked Jelly’s new ork for New England & New Jersey engagements. Same trouble, dough didn’t stretch far enough and they, too, fell out. To get even with Jelly, Fishman booked ork on a ‘blind date.’ He advised Jelly, the town, Little Washington, Pa, was a ‘gold mine’ for any ork that played there and that it was billed like Barnum & Bailey were coming. Jelly was elated and ork took off. When they arrived there, they found place deserted as an ex-mining town, and no billing whatsoever, and no ‘Welcome Committee.’ Jelly pitched a boogie, but managed somehow for his boys to get a place to squat, till he raised some dough to get them back to NYC. He cussed Ed out for a year. He got some dough from a record date and wrote to party there who were holding his trunk, bearskin coat which cost a grand & trunkful of orchestrations, thanking them for being so nice. He enclosed a money order but the party never replied. Charley Lee, great sax man was member of ork. About 10 years ago, was with ‘Jive Bombers’ and later had to have his legs amputated.

Young, creator of MCA, sold his interest in corporation to Stein, present head who really built it up, by procuring every important star. Last year’s intake was about 50 million dollars, from various sources, including great TV production, ‘Wagon Train.’ It’s a tough controlling nut to handle an ork and I recall being in main office of MCA, when a leader called for his dough, forgetting transportation, lobby photo, and other advances, paid for him. He almost passed away when he looked at check.

A local radio station ballyhooed a Jazz Ork as ‘greatest ever’ each night, and booked it for various affairs, for 1 grand per night. I was asked if I’d be interested in supplying orks to work with the leader for $200.00 per night, after its deduction of $800.00 for corporation. From my $200.00, I was expected to deduct cost of personnel, transportation bus and my commission. That was in 1930, when average ork, even Jelly’s got $200.00 nightly guarantee, plus percentage commission.

Independent bookers are happy because Screen Actors Guild has caused the government to declare MCA a monopoly, which has charged employees commission for hiring them. Poor Sinatra, Belefonte and other will be seeking new managers to guide their destinies.

The Potomac River Jazz Club of Washington, D.C., has kindly granted permission to publish the following full-scale article by Frederick J. Spencer M.D. titled: JELLY ROLL MORTON, ASTHMA, and the “WHORE’S ITCH”. The article was first published in Tailgate Ramblings, the newsletter of The Potomac River Jazz Club, dated June 2003, pages 9—11.

Frederick J. Spencer M.D.

Jelly Roll Morton,
Asthma, and the “Whore’s Itch”

by Frederick J. Spencer M.D.

One of the last stops in Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton’s peripatetic life was Washington, D. C., where he played piano in The Jungle Inn, a shady nightclub. In August, 1938, Morton’s wife, Mabel Bertrand, “was back of the bar mixing a Pink Lady,” when a brawl began:

“One night one of these riff-raff got to acting rowdy and Ferd (Morton) called him. The fellow then used some bad language. Ferd slapped him. Then he sat down at the piano and began to play and the fellow slipped up behind him and stabbed him . . . the first time in the head and, when Ferd turned, he stabbed him just above the heart . . . we took Ferd to the hospital . . . (they) laid him right under an electric fan and put some ice water packs on the wound. Said that would clog the blood. I think right there was where he got his bad heart and the asthma — right there in that lousy Washington hospital.”

Putting Morton under an electric fan in the hospital was a merciful act in Washington’s non air-conditioned, August climate. But applying ice water packs to his stab wound was inadvisable. It is a cardinal surgical principle that all penetrating wounds should be explored along their depth and breadth, if necessary under anesthesia. Morton’s treatment may have served to “clog the blood” on the surface, but may not have stopped bleeding beneath the skin. If this forms a deep pool of blood, it may impair the function of a vital body structure. It was probably this complication that killed James Reese Europe, as described in my book, “Jazz and Death: Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats.”

Asthma is a specific disease of the branching passages through which air goes in and out of the lungs. Narrowing of this “bronchial tree” leads to the breathlessness (dyspnea), cough, and wheezing of true bronchial asthma. Similar symptoms may be caused by heart failure, a condition known clinically, confusingly, and incorrectly as cardiac asthma. Mabel Bertrand’s report that Morton had “a bad heart and the asthma” has naturally led to the conclusion that he had heart disease and bronchial asthma. However, the primacy of a cardiac origin of Morton’s asthmatic symptoms is supported by these descriptions of his malady:

1.  Alan Lomax: “I met him one day on a subway stair in New York and walked a little way with him. He bad to stop every few steps to get his breath;” Dyspnea on exertion is typical of heart failure, not bronchial asthma.

2.  Mabel Bertrand: “I noticed when he walked upstairs he breathed very hard and had shortening of the breath.” Once more, dyspnea on exertion is emphasized.

3.  Jelly Roll Morton: “I went to the hospital for my check up . . . well, I was examined again, hardening of the arteries of the heart.” The phrase, “hardening of the arteries of the heart” — the coronary arteries — is the most cogent reason for making a firm diagnosis of a cardiac origin of his symptoms.

4.  Jelly Roll Morton: “My breath has been very short . . . and have been spitting blood . . .” “Spitting blood” is a sign of heart failure, not bronchial asthma.

The symptoms of bronchial asthma exhibited by Jelly Roll Morton were probably those of cardiac asthma, a result of his heart disease.

In “Dead Man Blues,” Phil Pastras suggests that Morton’s heart disease may have been caused by syphilis:

“Morton reveals that he had had a serious bout of some kind of venereal disease in his early youth, when he was about sixteen or seventeen years old: ‘At that time, there was something called the “whore’s itch,” which broke out all over Jelly Roll. He would scratch and scratch until he almost poisoned himself. A big cake of a sore formed between his thighs. . . . He cured himself with sulphur, lard, and bluestone.’ If the undiagnosed malady was syphilis, Jelly’s cardiovascular problems may possibly have been the symptoms of the tertiary stage of that disease. We know now that the only certain cure for syphilis is penicillin, or one of many forms of antibiotics now available, but those drugs were not available to cure the illness until after Morton’s death.”

Primary, secondary, and some forms of tertiary syphilis, could be treated successfully in Morton’s day with a full course of arsenic and bismuth therapy.

Syphilitic skin rashes rarely cause itching: “The association of severe itching with an eruption of general character is against syphilis;” and “Most of the mucocutaneous lesions are indolent and asymptomatic.” The “whore’s itch” experienced by Morton was almost certainly scabies, not syphilis. Scabies is an ailment caused by an “itch mite” burrowing into the skin, where it lays its eggs. It may be spread by sexual contact. The itching is intense, and scratching can lead to secondary infection, which may become generalized, with scaling and crusting. A time-honored treatment of scabies is to use an ointment containing sulphur in a suitable base, like lard from the household pantry. Bluestone (copper sulfate) adds some astringency to the mixture.

Cardiovascular syphilis was a comparatively common illness during Morton’s lifetime. If his doctors had suspected that his heart disease was syphilitic, they would have ordered a blood test. This would have been followed by treatment if the diagnosis was confirmed. There is no evidence that this occurred. Furthermore, “The signs of cardiovascular syphilis usually take at least 10, and up to 40 years to develop, although the majority of cases are diagnosed within 20 years.” Jelly Roll Morton was born in 1890. If he contracted syphilis when he was “about sixteen or seventeen years old,” cardiac manifestations would have commonly appeared by his thirty-sixth or thirty-seventh year, i.e. at most by 1927. The onset of Morton’s symptoms around 1938 is therefore 11 years beyond the more usual time limits of the disease.

Alan Lomax told pianist James Dapogny that Morton, who was interviewed by Lomax in 1938, was “riddled with syphilis.” For Lomax to say this, Morton presumably had obvious physical or behavioral signs of syphilis of the central nervous system, the other form of tertiary syphilis (cardiovascular syphilis has the same signs and symptoms as other forms of heart disease). If the changes noted by Lomax in Morton’s well-being were caused by syphilis, these would have become even more evident in Morton’s remaining years. Neither Morton’s physical nor mental status seems to have been adversely affected in those years, except by heart disease.

Two thirds of people infected with syphilis do not progress to the tertiary stage of the disease. If Jelly Roll Morton ever had syphilis, it apparently became latent, and affected neither his cardiovascular, nor his central nervous, systems. He died in Los Angeles County General Hospital at 2:00 p.m. on July 10, 1941. The “Immediate Cause of Death” on the death certificate of “Ferdinand Morton” is “Cardiac Decompensation,” due to “Hypertensive Heart Disease,” both of “unknown duration.” Cardiac decompensation is a synonym for heart failure. There are no “other conditions” noted, and no autopsy was performed.

The puritanical stigma of associating syphilis with sin has sometimes led to a more socially acceptable diagnosis being used on a death certificate. David Stuart met Morton in Los Angeles:

“I had my Jazz Man Record Shop, and Jelly used to come in, and we became friendly. He got sick before he died, and they put him in a kind of broom closet in the hospital, and they treated him shabbily.”

This description makes it unlikely that a favorable false diagnosis would have been granted an impoverished, black, jazz pianist dying in a municipal hospital.

It has been suggested that Jelly Roll Morton had asthma and syphilis. This is unsupported by the clinical course of his cardio-respiratory illness, and by the absence of signs and symptoms referable to his central nervous system. His scabious rash, and the unmodified death certificate diagnoses of “Cardiac Decompensation” due to “Hypertensive Heart Disease,” strengthen this conclusion.

I wish to thank Mike Meddings and Prof. James Dapogny for their biographical contributions, and Basil Schofield, M.D., F.R.C.P.E., for his clinical guidance.

© 2003 Frederick J. Spencer M.D.

Brian Goggin sends the following article titled: “JAZZ : As I Remember It” by Johnny St. Cyr. This full-scale article was serialised in the Jazz Journal magazine, Part One: Early Days, dated September 1966, Vol. 19, No. 9, pages 6—8 and 10; Part Two: Storyville Days, dated October 1966, Vol. 19, No. 10, pages 22—24; Part Three: The Riverboats, dated November 1966, Vol. 19, No. 11, pages, 6—7 and 9; and Part Four: Chicago Days, dated January 1967, Vol. 20, No. 1, pages 14—16.

As I Remember It


International jazz pianist and Jelly Roll Morton devotee Butch Thompson, sends this outstanding article, which pays tribute to J. Lawrence Cook’s transcribing skills.

Butch Thompson

J. Lawrence Cook on Jelly Roll Morton

by Butch Thompson

Writing in The Jazz Record magazine of October 1947, Roy J. Carew announced that he had published Jelly Roll Morton’s Frog-I-More Rag, calling it “the finest example of a published rag that has appeared in many years.” “It is,” he wrote, “the first time, to my knowledge, that any Morton number has ever been published exactly as he played it, note for note, from introduction to final bar.”

This limited edition publication was transcribed by J. Lawrence Cook. Carew could not have found anyone more qualified for the job, and over the next several years their work together resulted in a portrait of the Morton style that was not only the first of its kind, but remarkably accurate.

In a letter to Mike Meddings in 1975, Cook remembered Morton as a “sloppy, ear-playing pianist. However, I think he deserved all of the fame that he gained. This being because he definitely invented a certain style of jazz playing.” In other words, Jelly Roll Morton was a true original, and J. Lawrence Cook knew it.

In fact, Morton’s playing was unlike that of any other jazz pianist. Some of this comes from intangibles — his uniquely ringing touch is impossible to imitate — but some of it can be analyzed by careful transcription of his playing, and the Cook transcriptions offer some wonderful insight.

A word about the transcription process itself will not go amiss. Beginning the work as he did in the early 1940s, Cook had to use a turntable for playback. This was a clumsy business, even with the most precise tone arm of the time. Repeated hearings of short fragments were extremely difficult. Add to this the technical limitations of the recordings themselves, and things are even more subjective. Even on the best piano recordings, it is often very difficult to distinguish what is actually played.

All of this would make Cook’s work very tricky. And because of the unique aspects of the Morton style, he would have to listen hard. Much of what he would hear simply was not standard practice.

Examples exist of Cook’s work on 22 different Morton performances. These include full transcriptions as well as edited “arrangements” and some fragments such as Benny Frenchy’s Defeat, Discordant Jazz, and Sweet Jazz Music, the latter all taken from Morton’s celebrated Library of Congress recordings. A number of the unpublished pieces can be found at the Historic New Orleans Collection, most notably superb versions of Creepy Feeling (the 1938 Jazz Man recording) and Sweetheart O’ Mine (the 1926 Vocalion).

The very dedicated Roy Carew published eight full-length pieces in single sheet music format, including Frog-I-More Rag (1947), Mamie’s Blues (1948), Buddy Bolden’s Blues (1950), Winin’ Boy Blues (1950), The Crave (1950), The Miserere (1950), Naked Dance (1950) and Big Fat Ham (1956.)

A close look at some of these published pieces is in order. First, it should be pointed out that Cook’s role was not always simply to transcribe, but at times also to edit. This editing ranges from minor changes to more extensive overhauling of what Morton actually played. It seems clear that Cook (and possibly Carew) felt the need to “clean up” certain aspects of Morton’s playing. A very obvious example is Naked Dance, taken from the 1939 General recording, in which Cook has changed a number of D flat octaves in the bass to more “correct” E flats. Whether Morton had played these “wrong” notes intentionally is a matter for debate — he had used the same jarring bass pattern to make a deliberate point at the Library of Congress. Cook’s idea, however, was probably that the more correct bass line would have a better chance to pass muster with people who might buy sheet music. Whatever the verdict, this isn’t a major change, and in fact Naked Dance, played as transcribed by Cook, it sounds very much like the recording. It is not, however, an exact transcription in every detail.

Among the other published pieces, The Crave is remarkably close to the General recording, which is its model. There is much to learn here, beginning with the introduction, where we notice in the first bar that Morton does not always put the melody on top. During the first strain in D minor, the melody shifts frequently from the top of the right hand — the little finger, playing in octaves — to the bottom, the thumb, with chiming thirds and sixths voiced above it. This is a very important key to the Morton style, in which something very much like sleight of hand seems always to be at work.

There can be no better example of this melodic trickery than the final sixteen bars of The Miserere, which is actually a medley of two popular themes from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Morton plays through 16 bars of The Anvil Chorus twice, the second time in a tour de force of inspired improvising. Again, he combines ringing octave passages with smaller intervals in which the melody moves from top to bottom and back. At times we seem to hear at least two improvised lines at once, much like the freewheeling collective improvisation of a New Orleans band.

Due to the inaccurate pitch of the Library of Congress material as it was originally heard on record, a result of the erratic recording process itself, Cook’s transcription of The Miserere is a full step lower than Morton’s key. This does not detract from his considerable accomplishment. Another fine Library of Congress transcription is the “stomp” version of Maple Leaf Rag, which Cook pitched in F major — a full minor third lower than where it was actually played.

Morton fans have long known of his requirement that the true jazz pianist should imitate a jazz band. With his transcriptions, Cook managed to unravel Morton’s method for this process. The published version of Buddy Bolden’s Blues shows how Morton used the same kind of polyphonic right-hand playing, combined with two-handed, arpeggiated flourishes, at slow tempos. Perhaps the best example of this kind of playing at slower tempos is the unpublished Sweet Jazz Music, two improvised choruses loosely based on the verse of Mr. Jelly Lord.

By listening so hard and so carefully, J. Lawrence Cook managed to put at least a part of the Jelly Roll Morton magic on paper. This was a tremendous accomplishment.

Author’s note: Also see J. Lawrence Cook’s listings of his transcriptions and arrangements on the Jelly Roll Morton Copyrights & Compositions page.

© 2003 Butch Thompson

Laurie Wright has kindly granted permission to publish the following article: “HAVE DRUM, WILL TRAVEL : An Interview with Tommy Benford” by Peter Carr, Al Vollmer and Laurie Wright. This full-scale article was serialised in the Storyville magazine, No. 100, dated April—May 1982, pages 124—129, and No. 111, dated February—March 1984, pages 105—107.

An Interview with Tommy Benford
by Peter Carr, Al Vollmer and Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright has kindly granted permission to publish the following article titled: “THAT CAT STOPPED MY SHOW COLD” : An Interview with “Nick” Rodriguez by Laurie and Peggy Wright. This full-scale article was published in the Storyville magazine, No. 135, dated September 1988, pages 86—94.

An Interview with “Nick” Rodriguez
by Laurie and Peggy Wright

 In ascending date order

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the JAZZ INFORMATION magazine, dated November 1941, Vol. 2, No. 16, pages 39 and 90.



Little has been known about Ward Pinkett, the man who played such exciting trumpet on some of Jelly Roll Morton’s records. [WPJR] Through the courtesy of his mother, Mrs. M. Louise Pinkett, and his sister, M. Loretta Pinkett, we present this brief note on his life. Most of the information was supplied by Mrs. Pinkett, and is published without alteration. — Editor’s Note.

William Ward Pinkett, Jr., was born in Newport News, Va., on April 29, 1906. His father, a tailor, played cornet and was an inspiration to his four children, who were all musically inclined.

Ward junior started out on cornet at an early age. He played his first trumpet at the age of ten. While attending local grammar and high schools, he continued his musical education until he was able to join the high school and city bands. He was a student at New Haven Conservatory of Music, Meridian, Mississippi. Two fellow students at the conservatory, both from Newport News and both also now dead, were Harold F. Whittington (trumpet, Fees Williams) and Harvey G. Boone (sax, Noble Sissle).

Ward first joined a local orchestra. His first “big” job was with what was then White Brothers’ Orchestra of Washington, D.C. Later he moved to New York City, and was connected with Henri Saparo at the Bamboo Inn in 1929. At that time he also played with Chick Webb, King Oliver, Teddy Hill, and several other bands.

Ward died of pneumonia in New York City March 15, 1937, and is buried in Newport News. He is survived by a 13-year old daughter by his first marriage, Doris Louise Pinkett, who resides with her grandmother in Newport News. She too is musically inclined, and expects to follow in her father’s footsteps.

A sister, Loretta, plays sax and directs a swing band in Newport News today.

Besides his records with Jelly Roll Morton, Pinkett is to be heard on Dog Bottom and Jungle Mama, by Chick Webb’s Jungle Band, Brunswick 4450. He played solo trumpet and sang the scat chorus on the first side. Ward also plays and sings on King Oliver’s Stop Crying and Papa De-Da-Da, Brunswick 6053. He played most of the solo trumpet on Oliver’s well-known Call Of The Freaks and Trumpet’s Prayer, Victor 38039.

Pinkett also played trumpet on Top And Bottom and Coalyard Shuffle, by Joe Steele’s orchestra, and Clarence Williams’ Shout Sister Shout, Perfect 15403.

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 1st December 1942, page 7.

Down Beat

Jelly Roll Morton Discs
Released by ‘Jazz Man’

Los Angeles — The Jazz Man Record Company issues a new set of records this month and Mr. Jimmy Petrillo need have no worry as to whether they were recorded after his well known August 31 deadline. They were recorded well before the deadline but just how long before is something the intellectuals of jazz can argue about, for these platters consist of four previously unissued solo recordings by the late Jelly Roll Morton, who died here in Los Angeles over a year ago.

Titles are Honky Tonk Music, Winin’ Boy Blues (a different version than that on General label), Finger Buster and Creepy Feeling.

Like all of Jelly Roll Morton’s piano solos, these records are either unspeakably corny or glorious examples of the purest kind of jazz, depending on the musical viewpoint of the listener. One thing certain is that they are not only authentic Mortons but some of the finest samples of his work.

For Jazz Man Records Company, now operated by Mrs. Marili Stuart while her husband Dave Stuart navigates in the Ferry Command, it is the biggest achievement since the release of the first records by Bunk Johnson, famous old-time jazz figure who taught Louis Armstrong how to play.

Prof. Lawrence Gushee sends the following article from The Chicago Defender, dated Saturday, 3rd July 1943, page 18, columns 3—4.

The Chicago Defender

Money Awaits Kin
Of ‘Jelly’ Morton

NEW YORK. — (ANP) — An undisclosed sum of money awaits the legal heirs of Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, famous pianist and composer who died some time ago in California.

According to Eli E. Oberstein of the Classic Record company, 2 West 46th street
[,] New York, the noted musician left a wife who was unable to prove her status with the courts and therefore is not his legal heir. The money will be paid instead to relatives.

Relatives or persons knowing the whereabouts of relatives of the widely acclaimed jazz artist are urged to immediately contact Mr. Oberstein at the Classic Record company office.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the The Jazz Record magazine, dated September 1944, No. 24, page 3.

The Jazz Record



Session    King Porter
1         Tom Cat

This rare item, reissued from the obscure Chicago label, Autograph, caused some modest excitement when the first copy was turned up about six years ago, and then dropped quietly out of discussion until the Session Record Shop, run by jazz enthusiast Phil Featheringill, chose it for its debut among the “private” hot labels.

It’s a pleasant choice, bringing together as it does two of the most beloved figures in jazz. Oliver and Morton had come to Chicago by separate paths, but they both represented the cream of New Orleans. Tragically enough, each died in neglect; forgotten by the music they gave so much to. But adversity could never, even at the end, dampen the spirit of either.

These side are masterful, restrained showpieces; duets in the best sense, with no attempt to do anything more than present two excellent compositions in the most effective way possible. There’s no pyrotechnics (contrast the Armstrong-Hines Weather Bird, another classic jazz duet) — just the tunes played as Jelly Roll meant them to be; melodically and hot.

Try to hear Jelly Roll’s early piano solos of King Porter (Gennett and Vocalion) and Tom Cat Blues (Gennett). They make a swell comparison to the Autograph versions. At least I hope you can hear the 1939 General version of King Porter, because here, too, Jelly Roll plays the original melodies of his tribute to a fellow pianist, Porter King. It’s a far cry from the adaptation Fletcher Henderson made popular, which has become such a flashy vehicle for swing bands and especially wild-eyed bugle blowers. (Peculiarly enough, Henderson’s first record of the tune was a rejected Brunswick in 1925 with none other than Louis Armstrong handling the trumpet solo — but unfortunately this side was scrapped and no one will ever get to hear it).

Oliver, of course, plays King Porter for keeps, nestling comfortably alongside Jelly Roll instead of skyrocketing into the second balcony. Tom Cat is just as satisfactory, and perhaps more so, being a tune better adapted to a duet of this sort. The first melody is an improvisation on the theme of Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Mornin’, and then the tune settles down into the still more familiar melody (to Morton admirers at least) of Winin’ Boy Blues. I imagine that sometime in the thirties Jelly Roll simply wrote words to this section of Tom Cat and thus we got the tune which was released, with vocal, by Bluebird, General, and Jazz Man. You’ll like this original version, too.

Prof. Lawrence Gushee sends the following article from The Chicago Defender, dated Saturday, 30th September 1944, page 13, columns 1—2.

The Chicago Defender



Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton

ONE OF the best magazines devoted to the serious study of jazz (now temporarily suspended because of paper shortages) is “Jazz Music,” published at 140 Neasden Lane, Neasden, N.W. 10, England. The editors are Albert McCarthy and Max Jones.

I’m afraid that these British cats who write for and edit “Jazz Music” have got quite a jump on our South Side cognoscenti. Their knowledge of the development of jazz, of the history of instrumental techniques, of the contributions made by individual musicians, puts to shame our local juke-box intelligentsia, who, while properly enthusiastic about Hampton or Henderson or Basie, know nothing of musical traditions that gave them birth.

Even our South Siders who do know something of jazz history and were acquainted with the men and women who have contributed to it can rarely be persuaded to write down what they know. Perhaps they don’t realize how eagerly musical enthusiasts in all parts of the world are searching for information about the lives and careers of the great performers of jazz.

For example, the February-March, 1944, issue of “Jazz Music” is entirely devoted to the life of and work of Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, of whom Max Jones writes, “To a greater degree perhaps more than any other jazzman he absorbed conflicting musical influences: opera, ragtime, Spanish, blues, New Orleans brass band, popular ballad, and folksong . . . As a musician he was multi-talented, a fine soloist, outstanding orchestral pianist, excellent singer (in the jazz sense), arranger of distinction, and a composer unique in the field of jazz . . . He merits recognition as the greatest composer of jazz.”

Storyville to Los Angeles

IN ASTONISHING detail, Max Jones has pieced together from a variety of sources the long and complicated story of Jelly Roll Morton’s life. (The most interesting of these sources is Morton’s own spoken account, with illustrative passages on the piano, recorded for the Folklore Division of the Library of Congress). Starting with some conventional music training in the genteel tradition, Morton drifted in his teens into taverns and nightclubs where he learned to play blues and was offered a job.

When his family learned about his job, there was a blow-up, after which Morton devoted himself entirely to Storyville night life. During the ensuing years, 1901 to around 1912, he steadily improved his music, moved around from job to job, traveled with road shows, played in vaudeville, made the acquaintance of many cities and many musicians. Mr. Jones tells us that in 1914 Morton was in Chicago with a five-piece band at the Elite Cafe at 31st and State.

It was during the twenties that Jelly Roll Morton’s most famous recordings were made: “Mr. Jelly Lord,“ “Mamamita,” “35th St. Blues” (the last two have been re-issued by Steiner-Davis); and performances with his orchestra, the “Red Hot Peppers,” such as “Doctor Jazz,” “The Chant,” “Shreveport,” “Black Bottom Stomp.”

Any Relatives Left?

ALTHOUGH considerable artistic recognition came to Morton with his Bluebird recordings, his album of “New Orleans Memories” issued by General Record company, and his historical recordings (arranged by Alan Lomax) for the Library of Congress, his closing days were clouded by poverty and illness. The magazine “Downbeat” reported in its issue of July 5, 1941, that Jelly Roll was “definitely in need of financial assistance.” He was dead by the time the magazine reached the stands.

Max Jones is writing a book on Jelly Roll Morton, and wants any information about him that can be supplied by those who knew him. When did Morton first come to Chicago? Where did he play besides the Elite Cafe? Have any of his relatives ever claimed the money that accumulated since his death as royalties on records and songs? I should be glad to forward to Mr. Jones any information that readers may be able to supply.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the Pickup magazine, dated February 1946, Vol. 1, No. 2, page 5, columns 1—2.


The Record Collector’s Guide


1.  A lot of people have convinced themselves that Art Tatum is an exhibitionistic pianist incapable of good band work, and a lot more have decided, on the strength of some jam session broadcasts, that Barney Bigard’s playing sharply deteriorated following his departure from Ellington. We heard a couple of Black and White records recently (nos. 13 and 14) which would probably cause them to revise their opinions. Art’s solos are compact and hot, his ensemble work in good taste. Barney’s playing is as good as ever for tone, ideas and fluency of expression. On the same records are both Joe Thomases. Joe Tenor Thomas is in great form and, for our money, steals the records. Seldom heard outside the Lunceford band, here is the tenor player whom we would put right up next to Hawkins, away ahead of the crush[,] which the last few years have produced. His vocal on “Sweet Marijuana Brown” is very fine and probably his best to date. This number, incidentally, is by Leonard Feather, and for it we will forgive him much.

2.  A browse in the dictionary is usually rewarding. Take this: tailgate, n. The lower gate of a canal lock. What has this to with the tail-gates in Canal Street, chillun?

3.  One of the latest “Metronome” cracks against Jelly Roll is that “Ferdinand was far more of a bull than a monarch at the keyboard.” We wonder if the memory still rankles of how, when he guest-starred on “The Chamber Music of Lower Basin Street” (American edition), Jelly Roll ignored time-cues and played well over his allotted time, with the result that a special arrangement of the blues by the present assistant editor of “The Metronome,” featuring Dinah Shore no less, just didn’t get played.

And talking of Jelly Roll reminds us that we heard his “Little Lawrence” for the first time a few days ago. We’ve never heard anyone carve Bubber Miley before, but Ward Pinkett surely does it thereon. . . .

Note: The assistant editor of the Metronome was Leonard Feather.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the The Jazz Record magazine, dated March 1946, No. 42, pages 2, 5—6 and 14.

Story of Fate Marable
Legendary St. Louis Pianist
Made Riverboat Jazz History


Brian Goggin sends the following article from The Jazz Record magazine, dated January 1947, No. 51, pages 13—14.

The Jazz Record

Bud Scott – Rhythm Man


THE history of jazz and the biography of guitar-playing Bud Scott are so inextricably interwoven that the serious jazz student would find it difficult to distinguish between the two. Let us draw some parallels: one of the first jazz bands was John Robichaux’s New Orleans aggregation; Bud Scott played with that band until 1910; Freddie Keppard blew some powerful horn in 1911 . . . guitar-playing Bud Scott, then a mature twenty-one year older, was a member of his Olympia Band.

The great King Oliver invaded Chicago and set the Windy City on its jazz-listening ears in the early Twenties; genial Bud Scott sat in on the rhythm section of that outstanding crew of New Orleans alumni. In 1927, Bud plucked the banjo strings and made rhythmic chords for Erskine Tate’s famous Vendome band. Along about that time we discover jovial Bud Scott on records made with the inimitable pianist, Jelly Roll Morton.

The Apex Club boasted an attention-attracting combination led by Jimmy Noone
[,] which made those memorable Apex sides . . . Bud is the man you hear on guitar. That was the fateful year of 1929 when the prosperity bubble burst and with it went many of the outstanding Negro musicians. Bud Scott, creeping up on thirty-nine, made the trek westward to California to join his old friends Ed ‘Kid’ Ory and Papa Mutt Carey.

For fifteen years Bud jobbed around California, carving a name for himself and his trio. In 1944, at the behest of Orson Welles, the all-star New Orleans band was formed for a network show. Whom did they choose for guitar? There was only one man to choose — Bud Scott. And who is playing the finest rhythm guitar in the old New Orleans Dixieland style today? Again the answer is self-evident: Mr. Bud Scott!

It can be easily seen that this scholarly man, who today at fifty-five is still playing great rhythm guitar, has had a career replete with active association with the famous names in jazz history. In his intimate personal and musical relationship with these men Bud Scott has helped to shape the roots of jazz throughout the formative years. Dubbed “The Master” by his fellow Ory band members for no small reason, Bud Scott has had one of the best musical educations of all jazz men and is well respected for it.

Retracing some of the steps in Bud’s career, we find him handling the guitar in Robichaux’s band at the mature age of 14! Yes, a thin, handsome boy in knee pants who first fashioned guitar chords experimentally on his cousin’s instrument at the age of six, sat in with the originators of jazz and fashioned his style on two greats of the time: Frank Vaguer and Frank Landry. Bud still attended the New Orleans schools and played weekend dates with John Robichaux. He explains, “The bands in those days didn’t have too many steady jobs. It was a question of playing anywhere they had an offer.” Picnics, lawn parties, house parties and dances comprised most of their jobs.

Still without any formal lessons, Scott evinced sufficient evidence of his outstanding musicianship to hold down a rhythm section guitar job with Keppard’s famed Olympia Band in 1911, which he held for two years.

Throughout the early 1900s, Bud participated in the famous street parades, funerals, and public affairs sponsored by the thriving Creole City and which now has become a recognized part of jazz folklore. “Whenever someone would die,” Buds relates, “the people would think first of all of gathering a band together for the funeral. Keeping in tune with the ceremony the band would play sad music on the way to the cemetery. Then, in order to cheer up the bereaved family they would jazz up and play spirited songs. Much of your early jazz can be found right there,” the spectacled Mr. Scott continued.

Playing the music for several variety shows, Bud took to the road and departed from New Orleans. He found himself in Washington, D. C., in 1912 with Billy King, a sensation of the musical comedy boards of those days, and added the violin to his repertory of instruments.

The short hop to New York was inevitable because there more and more attractions presented themselves in terms of opportunities for jobs and study. In 1916 he joined the famous Clef Club, a musical society and clearing house for Negro artists
[,] which has boasted the membership of such greats as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson and Roland Hayes during its career.

“In 1919, the Clef Club gave a concert in Carnegie Hall,” Bud relates, “and that marked the first time jazz was played in that sedate hall.” Bud Scott further remarked, “I played in the orchestra at that concert and we received a tremendous ovation from a packed house.”

Bud attended the School of Art in 1917 where Walter Damrosch taught him musical theory. Furthermore, he graduated from the Peabody Institute of Music. This substantial, formal, musical background has well supplemented his natural talent.

The congregation of former New Orleans friends in Chicago in the early twenties marked Bud’s departure from New York. Joining King Oliver’s outstanding band in 1923, Bud took his seat alongside such well-known men as Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Darnell Howard and Barney Bigard.

You find Bud playing a few record dates with Doctor Jazz, Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers, in 1927. The Jelly Roll crew
[,] which boasted Johnny and Baby Dodds, Stump Evans on alto and Bud on guitar cut the famous Wild Man Blues, Beale Street Blues, Jungle Blues and The Pearls sides, the originals of which are collector’s items today.

As banjoist, guitarist and violinist with Erskine Tate’s Vendome band in 1927, Bud continued to carve out a rather impressive record of jazz playing.

To single out his own favorite recording, Bud chooses the Sweet Lorraine side
[,] which he made with the late Jimmie Noone and his Apex Club orchestra.

In 1929, Bud Scott followed in the trail of Ed “Kid” Ory, Mutt Carey and others and trekked westward to Southern California. He played awhile with Mutt Carey’s small band in the local spots around Los Angeles and then formed his own combination. From 1930 until 1944 Bud Scott played every conceivable sort of date in order to obtain an income. He soloed, played vaudeville shows, pit bands, did some studio work, and gathered together a trio
[,] which played the best spots in Hollywood such as the Florentine Gardens.

The revival of New Orleans jazz under the aegis of Orson Welles resulted in the reorganization of the Kid Ory band and the rest is contemporary legend. Since then, Bud Scott, along with the rest of that band, has thrived successfully on records, radio, pictures and the Jade Palace date.

Respected and revered by the men who play with him today and who have played with him in the past, Bud Scott at fifty-five has a share in the history of jazz which will doubtlessly immortalize him. Of greater significance is the fact that he is still playing with a vein of genius; a living testimony to his greatness as that rhythm man in the band!

Note: See also Brian Goggin’s essay of Arthur Scott accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Brian Goggin sends the following article titled: “Jazz on the Hudson” from the San Antonio Express, dated Monday, 9th June 1947, page 4, columns 3—7.

San Antonio Express


Tunes Born on Mississippi Years Ago
Come to Life Again in New York


NEW YORK, June 8. — Across the star speckled Hudson River, over the whine of the chugging boat motors, the trumpet echoed free, untrammelled, melancholy.

Soon it was joined by the wail of a crying clarinet, the insouciant, intrusive beat of the drum, and the nasal tone of bass and guitar. Then altogether in abandoned song.


For three hours, the Hudson was the Mississippi, the time was 35 years ago, and jazz was being born on the waters of the delta. And for three hours, jazz, freed from the confines of smoky night clubs and converted store fronts, flowed across the waters while the lights of the shore blinked in utter disbelief.

First of Series

It was the first of a series of summer “Jazz on the River” cruises sponsored by Chicago Pianist Art Hodes, and bearded Jazz Critic Rudi Blesch (Blesh) to “recreate the atmosphere in which jazz received its impetus.”

The boat was an erstwhile Hudson River excursion boat, its two decks crammed with about 200 “Hepsters,” its sides agleam with countless lights.

At the piano was chubby, cigar-smoking James P. Johnson, “the daddy of them all,” on trumpet, converted truck driver, Marty Marsala; on drums, “Baby” Dodds; on guitar, Danny Barker; on bass, “Pops” Foster; and on clarinet, Albert Nicholas.

The small combine was set on the lower deck, surrounded by shouting, stamping, whistling jazz devotees.

Better Than Big Bands

“When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Muskrat Ramble,” “High Society” — songs begun in the hot spots of New Orleans, that travelled up the river to Chicago — came home on a river boat in the Hudson.

“Yau (You) can have your big bands,” said Marsala as he put down his shining horn. “Give me this. Here I play what I feel, how I feel it. None of your notes running over a page. This is happy music.”

To Baby Dodds, who began banging tin cans around the house when he was a kid, it was a trip back home again to New Orleans.

And to all passengers, rocking and swaying to the heady beat, it was a strange and exciting adventure, a return to an era thought dead.

To Blesch (Blesh) it was the beginning of an effort to “overcome the prejudice which has relegated jazz to a lower level in American’s cultural life.”

The boat sailed up the Hudson and returned. Suddenly the crude blast of a ship’s horn shattered the magic. And it was 42nd St., not Basin.

Note: See also [Jazz on the River] with Baby Dodds (d); Bunty Pendelton (p) and Marty Marsala (tp) on a Hudson riverboat, New York, c. June 1947.

Brian Goggin sends the following obituary notice for Bud Scott from The Melody Maker and Rhythm, dated 23rd July 1949, Vol. 25, No. 834, page 2, columns 3—4.

Melody Maker


FOLLOWING the news, published in last week’s MELODY MAKER, of the death of Willie “Bunk” Johnson, comes information of the death of another of the original New Orleans jazzmen, in the person of veteran guitarist Bud Scott.

For the past few years, Bud Scott had been playing with Kid Ory’s Jazz band. He was responsible for most of the arrangements used by this wonderful group, and was the musical brains behind this outfit.

Those lucky enough to see the film will remember him as the guitarist with Louis Armstrong in “New Orleans.” In addition to his musical prowess on his instrument, which was of a very high standard, Bud will always be remembered for his cigars. Like our famous leader of the Opposition, Scott was never seen without a huge cigar adorning his face.

In his early days, he played with the excellent Olympia Band, which boasted such stalwarts as Freddy Keppard, Jimmy Noone and Zue Robertson. It was a pity that this group were too early to have been recorded, for the band was rated by those musicians who played in it as the finest ever to play the New Orleans street parades.

For many years Scott was associated with Earl Hines and Jimmy Noone at the Apex Club in Chicago.

Bud Scott had been ailing ever since the death of his great friend, Mutt Carey, in September last, and he passed away on July 2.

Note: See also Brian Goggin’s essay of Arthur Scott accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Brian Goggin sends the following obituary notice for Bud Scott from Down Beat, dated 12th August 1949, Vol 16, No. 15, page 2, column 5.

Down Beat

Bud Scott, Ory
Guitarist, Dies

Hollywood — Another veteran musician who has been part of the jazz legend since the music was born hit the final bar recently, as Bud Scott died in a Los Angeles hospital July 2.

Scott had been playing guitar and singing with the Kid Ory band until forced to leave his chair by illness many months ago. Ory, who never made any effort to secure a replacement, said he now plans to add another trumpet to the band, which has been playing to a large and enthusiastic following at the Beverly Cavern for almost 10 months.

Other members of the unit are Joe Darensbourg, clarinet; Andrew Blakeney, trumpet; Ed Garland, bass; Minor Hall, drums, and Buster Wilson, piano.

Scott generally gave his age as 59, but was believed to be around 75. He is survived by his widow, his third wife. There were no children.

Note: See also Brian Goggin’s essay of Arthur Scott accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Note: See also Hal Smith’s essay of Minor Hall accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Bill Haesler sends the following article from the Playback magazine, dated October—November 1949, Vol. 2, No. 10, page 14, columns 1—2.

Playback - Incorporating The Jazzfinder

Mystery Record Identified



Sparkling-eyed old-timer Walter Melrose is a warehouse of jazz information. Of course he should be, having been a jazz publisher and talent promoter since the days of the N.O.R.K. and Oliver, with whom he composed or co-published a mass of jazz standards. Walter is the brother of Kansas City Frank and Lester, Victor’s race series supervisor.

In a recent conversation with him regarding Jelly Roll Morton’s Chicago activities, I learned that it was not Jelly on:

Kitty Irvin:
   Ge 5592     Daddy Do

Several of the thorough Jelly collectors had held this item in ‘uncertain’ classification. I had determined several years ago that Volly de Faut was the clarinetist, but the pianist was a bit more difficult. Volly did not hear the record, but he remembered making it and felt positive that the pianist was white.

Yes, Walter remembered arranging the date. The two tunes were being pushed by his Melrose Music Publishers at the time, and he had sold Gennett on lusty singer Kitty Irvin. On the record Walter
played piano himself. And this is his only appearance on record. Add to those influenced by the Jelly piano style: Walter Melrose.

Walter has put me on the track some hitherto unissued Frank Melrose solos cut for the Marsh Studios (agent for Gennett, Autograph, Paramount, etc.)

Roger Richard sends the following article from Down Beat, dated 21st April 1950, page 4, column 1.

Down Beat


Studies Bop, Returns To
Original Love, Dixieland


Chicago — Roy Wasson made a decision a couple of years ago that is almost unheard of among jazzmen. Wasson was playing piano in California and he began to listen to Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker records. He liked them. For a onetime student of Jelly Roll Morton, that’s quite an admission.

“But I had to choose between the beat and the happy sound of Dixieland, and the music of bop, and I stuck with Dixie. The Dixie beat to me,” Wasson says, “is like the rhyme in poetry. You don’t have poetry without rhyme, and I couldn’t see playing without that beat.”

Now with Lane

Wasson’s now playing with Johnny Lane’s combo at the 1111 club here. A mild sandy-haired man of 40, he can’t reproduce Jelly’s style perfectly any more, but them, it’s been a long time since Jelly’s tutelage. Wasson was 16 when he met Morton, at the Walter Melrose publishing office at State and Lake streets in Chicago.

It was around 1923, and he used to go up to Melrose’s frequently to pick up sheet music for the neighborhood band he played with. “Jelly Roll seemed pleased that I knew his compositions, and he offered to teach me to play them just as he did.”

Studied for Year

“I studied with Jelly Roll the better part of a year. We would go up to a place near Adams and Wabash where you could rent pianos by the hour, and, once a week, I’d have a lesson, I’d play something, then he would play it, and we’d continue like that until I could duplicate his phrasing.”

As far as Wasson knows, he was Jelly’s sole pupil at the time, and certainly one of the few pianists Morton ever taught directly. In 1924, Wasson went to Milwaukee with the Red Flame Syncopators, and the lessons ended. On his return to Chicago he worked with Al Gale’s band at Pete’s Place, 111th and Cicero.

With Clarinetist Gale, who’s now in the sausage business in Minneapolis, were Charles Yaki, banjo; Gene Krupa, drums, and miscellaneous cornet players. It was probably Krupa’s first professional job, Wasson thinks. Though Roy stayed with Gale for almost two years, Gene left after about a year to go with Irvin Aaronson’s band.

Another Teacher

Wasson picked up another teacher, too, on his return to Chicago. This time, it was Jess Stacy, who was working at the Midway Gardens at the time. Roy’s routine with Stacy followed a pattern quite different from that under Morton.

“I’d go to Jess’ house about 1 p.m. and we’d have breakfast together. We’d play all afternoon, and I usually stayed through dinner and went down to the job with him in the evening. The Midway Gardens was a melting pot for musicians, I sat in for Stacy a couple of times, and I remember Benny Goodman, in short pants, sitting in with the band.”

Since Wasson’s return to Chicago last spring, he worked with Doc Evans’ band for a while, then as a single at the 1111 club. When Johnny Lane’s Dixie band moved into the Bryn Mawr spot, Wasson stayed on as pianist. His style is close to Morton’s, and is one of the brightest spots in the Chicago jazz picture today.

Prof. Lawrence Gushee sends the following rare c. September 1950 radio programme, which features Anita Gonzales. This one-hour Jewel in the Crown episode, transcribed by Brian Goggin and Mike Meddings, includes recorded music by Jelly Roll Morton. The weekly radio show “Doctor Jazz” was presented by Bob Kirstein and broadcast at 10 p.m. every Saturday night from station KFMV-FM 94.7 — then located at 6540 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, California.

Anita Gonzales and Bob Kirstein
Doctor Jazz – Radio Broadcast
Transcribed by Brian Goggin and Mike Meddings

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from The Record Changer magazine, dated October 1950, Vol. 9, No. 9, pages 8 and 18. Courtesy of Richard B. Hadlock.

Lottie Joplin
scott’s widow reminisces on the ragtime king
by Kay C. Thompson

Neil Aldridge sends the following pictorial sheet music advert, which was published in the Melody Maker and Rhythm, dated 8th December 1951, Vol. 27, No. 951, page 12, column 4.

Melody Maker






       (Recorded by “Jelly Roll” Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, HMV. B10173)

       (Recorded by “Jelly Roll” Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, HMV. B9221)

       (Recorded by Humphrey Lyttelton on PARLO. R3413)

BOOKS 1 and 2 also available
The 3 Books published at 4/- each Book

From all Music Dealers or Direct from :—

Luigi Ranalli sends the following article from the The Record Changer magazine, dated March 1952, Vol. 11, No. 3, page 11. Courtesy of Richard B. Hadlock.

The Record Changer


Piano Behind The Blues

Warren C. Huddleston

The place is the dim living-room of an old-fashioned residence on First Street in Muncie, Indiana. Jesse Crump is seated across the room from us, talking quietly. Called “Tiny” now, he’s a tall, heavy man, composed and dignified. His eyes are concentrated on times and places that are far away. He’s looking back across the crowded, wandering years of his life as a piano player and entertainer . . . back to his boyhood days in Dallas, Texas.

“I was always crazy about music. Music was in me from the beginning. When I was a kid back in Texas, I played on anything I could get a sound out of — bottles, a flute, an organ, a clarinet. Went to a circus once. There was a man made music out of bottles with water in them. I came home and got me some bottles and put water in them and made me music the same way. Just bottles with water.

“My mother played the organ, and when she wasn’t home I fooled around with it, just picked out little tunes. Had no trouble at all. The sounds were in my mind. Picked out chords, and learned a little about variation of notes.

“Went to a music teacher, and after she listened to me awhile she told me there was nothing she could teach me. Said that all I needed was some finger practice.”

During some thirteen years on the road with TOBA (the Negro vaudeville circuit), Jesse Crump got plenty of practice. He left Dallas when just a boy, in about 1919. Since then he’s played piano all over the TOBA circuit, and off the circuit in Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis and Muncie, Los Angeles and San Francisco and Monterey. He never went back to Dallas.

But let Jesse tell more of his story. This time he’s back in Chicago: “Decided I wanted to learn how to write music, so I tested myself. Tried to write out a tune. Sat down and wrote out the music for Home, Sweet Home, then I went to the piano and played what I’d put on the paper. It was Home, Sweet Home, sure enough. So I knew how to write music.”

Crump has been composing music ever since. He wrote many of the Ida Cox tunes, including Death Letter Blues, Black Crepe Blues, Cherry Pickin’ Blues, and Last Mile Blues. Most of the tunes on the records Ida Cox made for Paramount with Jesse as accompanist are Crump originals.

We’ve brought along a few of Jesse’s records, that he hasn’t heard for fifteen years or more, and now he asks to hear them. First we play Mr. Crump’s Rag, Jesse’s first record, his only solo piano record. Pure ragtime comes from the speaker, the tinkling notes moving with slow grace. Jesse’s head drops lower, and he moves in as close to the speaker as he can get. His eyes are half closed. He’s back on the Avenue in Indianapolis — pleasing the people at the Golden West Cafe. The year is 1923. . . . Then we play in rapid succession the other solo side, a slow blues called Golden West Blues, and the sides he made accompanying Nina Reeves, Indiana Avenue Blues and Louisville Lou. These two records he recalls, resulted from a session at Richmond, Indiana, that followed by a day or two Morton’s first Gennett piano solo session. So that brings up the subject of Jelly Roll:

“Never did meet Jelly in Richmond. Didn’t know we were in that studio so close together. Knew him, all right. He was a big mouth guy. Sure was a pistol. Thought nobody in the world but him could play piano. Always liked his Jelly Roll Blues. It’s a mighty fine tune, and ought to be recorded more.”

After we’d listened to African Rag, issued by Paramount and listed as by an unknown piano player, Jesse Crump’s comment was: “That might be Dave Peyton. Sounds kind of like him. Don’t think it’s James P. Johnson. Clarence Jones was another good piano player around Chicago back in those days. He could read music and play anything. Jimmy Blythe was an off-and-on piano player, but when he was good he was good. His Mecca Flat is a very nice tune — about the best he ever wrote.

“Lots of good piano players around Indianapolis when I was there. I can remember Russell Smith, Russell Williams, Frank Hines and Hanby . . . don’t remember the rest of his name. That was a good town for piano players when I was at the Golden West.”

Now Jesse Crump is seated at the piano. He clenches and unclenches his hands. His fingers poise above the keyboard, then drop towards the keys. The tune is one we’ve just listened to Mr. Crump’s Rag.

“Call it Tiny Fingers now,” Jesse said. “Friend of mine here in Muncie renamed it for me. That tune goes a long ways back. It was always one that I liked best.”

Then he moves into a boogie tune, and as we listened it becomes Yancey Special. Next Honeysuckle Rose and The World is Waiting for the Sunrise, the latter an original composition with a rolling boogie base. Both are altered and charged and alive with the creative power in Crump’s fingers.

“Mostly played back of a singer, but played a lot of solo piano. Now and then had me a combo. Had one five-piece outfit called Jesse Crump and His Cain Raisers. That was the first colored unit to play at the Pickwick Hotel radio station in Kansas City. Opened the way for colored entertainers.

“I’ve played around Los Angeles and Frisco quite a bit. New Orleans Swing Club in Frisco was the last place I played on the Coast. (This interview took place last fall; currently Crump is living in San Francisco and playing at the Copa Club in Monterey). I’ve been around Muncie off and on ever since 1937. Owned my own place for awhile. Then I played the 1100 Club, Main Café, Hollywood Bar and Candlelight all in Muncie. At one place they had a big sign out: ‘The Man Who Plays with a Thousand Bands.’ That man was me, accompanying a juke box.”

Crump grinned broadly, and went on to talk about the job he was on the day of our visit. He was playing solo piano at a local spot . . . blues, boogie, hillbilly, pop. All the request stuff. The bar was next to the railroad yards, and Jesse’s piano was forced to compete with switch engines and the constant clash of shuttling freight cars. We went out later to listen to him, and the music was still good music. It pleased us, and it pleased the people.

Note: The above article is reprinted by kind permission of Richard B. Hadlock, owner/publisher of The Record Changer.

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated July 1954, Vol. 7, No. 7, pages 26—27.

Jazz Journal

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

by Derrick Stewart-Baxter

It hardly seems possible that Jelly Roll Morton has been dead thirteen years, but nevertheless that is the case; poor Jelly died on July 10th, 1941, which is almost thirteen years to the day.

While he was living we never realized how immense was his stature. We critics, to our everlasting shame, were content to bestow our praise on lesser men, taking Morton’s music very much for granted. We forgot the man who was as much part of jazz as Louis Armstrong himself. He was allowed to drop into obscurity and poverty, living only on his dreams and memories. Alan Lomax took the trouble to search for him and to record his life story, and his superb piano playing for posterity (and the Library of Congress). It was only just in time, alas, but we owe Lomax a debt of gratitude for his work.


In the days of his youth, Mr. Jelly Lord amassed a considerable amount of money. When he was earning he was a lavish spender, and wine, women and song played their part in the saga of Mr. Jelly Lord. The world was his oyster for a few, all too brief years.

In 1939 Alan Lomax suggested to the General Record Company that an album of piano solos on the lines of the Library of Congress recordings, might be of interest to collectors. Under the personal supervision of Charles Edward Smith, a number of superb solos and vocal items were cut. The session took place on December 14th and 16th, 1939.

Of the thirteen titles that Morton recorded for General, only three were rejected. They were “Tiger Rag,” “Sporting House Rag,” and “Animule Ball.” The remainder were issued and eventually found their way onto British Vogue.

Now to commemorate this thirteenth anniversary of Morton’s death Vogue has issued the set on a magnificent LP disc (LDE080). These titles are among the finest Jelly ever made; which is only another way of saying that each and every one is a jazz classic. Furthermore, with the transfer to 33.1/3 rpm, the quality has been improved enormously.


Vogue has divided the sides into Piano and Vocal items (“Mamie’s Blues,” “Michigan Water Blues,” “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” “Winin’ Boy Blues,” and “Don’t You Leave Me Here,”) and Piano Solo items (“Original Rags,” “ The Naked Dance,” “The Crave,” “Mister Joe,” and “King Porter.”)

Side one contains five original blues complete with vocals. Morton was never just a blues man — he looked upon blues as only a small part of the whole, but when he set himself to the job of playing and singing them he had few, if any, equals.

Every track on this side is a little gem, played with great feeling and simplicity — the songs are sung as only Morton could sing them. How trite that phrase looks in print, and yet, it is strictly the truth — only Morton could bring this wonderful atmosphere to the blues. There is little of the archaic blues singer about him — his blues are a completely personal affair. Something entirely his own creation.

“Mamie’s Blues” was the first blues that Jelly ever heard, so he tells us (we know it better as “2-19 Blues.”) Mamie Desdumes (Desdunes) could sing only this number, but she made a great impression on the young man who played such wonderful piano in her Sporting House every night.” Jelly never forgot that blues. It comes alive once again as he sings and plays to us. Jelly’s version of “Michigan Water” is charming, and he sings the melody most sympathetically. His piano background is really beautiful.


“Buddy Bolden’s Blues” is of course, one of Morton’s best known compositions. This piano and vocal version is most interesting and I much prefer it to the band recording on HMV. He plays it very slowly, and one can only guess just what thoughts were running through his head. The past was obviously nearer than the present.

“Winin’ Boy” which follows is yet another famous Morton creation, and is certainly the finest track on Side one. After a magnificent vocal, Jelly gets carried away with his playing. There is a trance-like quality here as if Ferdinand Morton was re-living his early days. Rudi Blesh in his book “Shining trumpets” (Cassell) concludes his review of this with the following lines: “No listener will fail to be enthralled, few will ever forget the thrilling tones, the subtle, incomparable nuances, of this singing, the rich restrained piano, or the deeply affecting hummed tones of that last chorus.” I can add no more to that.

“Don’t You Leave Me Here” concludes Side one. There is little that can be said, for the result is a completely satisfying track. One cannot criticize such music.

Side two is devoted to Morton’s piano, and here we get a fine picture of the complete musician, almost, but not quite, for it would take more than two sides of an LP to give us everything Morton has to offer.

Ragtime is represented by the rag style offerings “Original Rags,” “The Naked Dance,” and “Mister Joe.” The fine stomping piano, which Jelly played so well, comes through in “King Porter Stomp.” While the Spanish influence, which was so much a part of Jelly (and of jazz itself) can be plainly heard in “The Crave.”

Morton’s music was so varied, and so original, that it is almost impossible to describe it adequately in print. It is a fact that none of his imitators have ever been able to achieve anything really worthwhile. I do not include the work of the wonderful white pianist Don Ewell in this criticism. Ewell is no imitator, as the Windin Ball sides will prove if they are ever issued here.

It is clear that Morton’s piano cannot be copied — a pianist may play his solos note for note, but what one hears will not be anything like the real thing. Morton was inimitable.

Of these piano rags, there is little to say. All are more than just piano ragtime. Morton’s playing was plainly influenced by this music which was brought to perfection by such musicians as Scott Joplin and Tom Turpin; but in the hands of Jelly, ragtime became a part of his personality and a new type of piano jazz was born. At all times he was greater than the music that influenced him.

I think I prefer “Mister Joe” (a tribute) to Joe King Oliver) of these three rags. It is an easy swinging little tune impeccably played. “The Naked Dance” comes from a very early period, when Jelly was playing in the various Sporting Houses. It was a speciality of his.

“Original Rags” is perhaps, the lesser of the three, but even this is only so by comparison with the others. I feel sure that few will be disappointed with Morton’s playing here.

“The Crave” is a joy from beginning to end and will intrigue the musicians among my readers. Here then, is the “Spanish Tinge” of which so much has been written. Morton weaves his rhythmical patterns into a most enchanting little composition. The piece will bear the closest study.

“King Porter Stomp” is the most famous of all of his compositions, and there is hardly a jazz band worthy of the name who has not played an arrangement of it. Of the many versions Jelly has recorded this is about the best. How that piano rides along; how tremendously exciting it all becomes.

Here then is a great chance for the young collector to enrich his collection with some really great music — the finest examples of Morton’s piano obtainable. . . .

Roger Richard sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated October 1955, Vol. 8, No. 10.

Jazz Journal

Jester Stacy is learning Morton’s, “The Pearls”, while he is playing at the Elbow Room which is a pebble’s throw down the beach from the lighthouse by western reckoning. Jess tells of meeting Jelly in Chicago. Jess was listening to Hines playing piano when Jelly came up and introduced himself. During the conversation Jelly said “Don’t pay any attention to Hines. He’s only an upstart.” How would Jelly have classified Brubeck and John Lewis?

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following article from the Music column of the TIME magazine, dated 3rd October 1955, Vol. LXVI, No. 14, page 51, column 3 and page 52, column 3.

Time Magazine


Lizzie’s Return

She looked the soul of matronly dignity. One night last week, wearing a black-lace-over-taffeta dress, a rope of artificial pearls and a corsage of roses pinned demurely over her ample midriff she stepped quietly in front of Bob Scobey’s Dixieland combo in Oakland’s Showboat Cafe. When she let fly with Ain’t Gonna Give You None of My Jelly Roll, she rocked the Showboat. She clapped her hands, snapped her fingers shuffled her feet, flapped her elbows. The singer was New Orleans’ Lizzie Miles, 60, one of the last of a great generation of Negro blues shouters.

The lacerated joys and sunny sorrows of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Chippie Hill survive only in the grooves of phonograph records, but their way with a song has been a lesson to every singer right down to Rosemary Clooney and Eartha Kitt. Lizzie is surviving handsomely, in person. Her voice has a brazen ring and a driving spirit; if she sings a bit flat here and there, she is always steady on the beat. Above all, she brings an authentic echo of a past jazz age that the youngsters in her audience never knew and the oldtimers tearfully remember.

Now and then she may sit down with a blues-loving customer and talk; her stories pack almost as much wallop as her songs. When she was six or seven in New Orleans, Lizzie recalls, she started to sing with the band jointly run by Kid Ory and King Oliver — songs with words like

Don’t do that dance, I tell you, Sadie
That’s no dance for a lady.

She was married at 16, but left her husband a year later and then joined the Cole Bros. Circus, singing with the sideshow band. “I saw the whole country,” she says. “I saw America like the millionaires didn’t see it!”

The Gangsters Were Quiet. In the 1918 flu epidemic, she was seriously ill. “I promised the Blessed Lady that if God made me better, I’d never get on a stage again. I got better all right. And one night, a boy friend come around and took me to a club in Bucktown. When we got there, he told the bandleader, ooooh, could I sing. Well, it wasn’t any stage, so I got up and sang Dardanella, and they paid me $25 a week.”

For years after that, in New York and Chicago, Lizzie was something of a favorite. Those were heady days, with the big gamblers at the ringside.  (“I remember Little Augie, he always wanted to hear Prisoner’s Song — you know, ‘If I had the wings of an angel . . .’ Most of those gangsters were the nicest, quietest people.”) In the Depression years, the blues were too real for comfort : Lizzie thought she was through. She worked as a housemaid, later as a barmaid. Even in World War II, she could not find a singing job. “Showfolks, gamblers and sportin’ people have no loyalty. I was too fat and too old.” Finally, four years ago, she persuaded a New Orleans disk jockey called Poppa Stoppa to put her on his program. Soon after that, she had singing jobs again, swept along by the huge current jazz boom. “I dug up my old antique gowns — crepe and satin — and my long beads and fancy combs and shoes with rhinestones on the heels.”

The Music Was Different. Today, billed as vocalist with the Scobey combo, Lizzie is playing some of the country’s better-known jazz spots (including, last month, Chicago’s Blue Note). Everywhere, she becomes the favorite as soon as she opens her generous mouth.

But Lizzie’s new success has not made her forget the beauties of the good old days. “I remember here come Jelly Roll Morton passing our house, on the way to play in Storyville,” she muses. “I recollect Ory and Oliver. It used to be it was so hot they’d drop one suspender, open their shirts and their pants so’s they’d be comfortable, and would they play! The music then was different. Everybody played close. They listened to each other. They played a strong melody and pretty, pretty chords. Nowadays, they play before the beat, after the beat, everything but on the beat.”

Not only the music has changed. “New Orleans isn’t the same any more either. It’s gettin’ so fancy with tourists and all. I hope I die before they make a Northern city out of New Orleans.”


Note: Lizzie Miles (Elizabeth Mary Pajaud, née Landreaux) was the step-sister of the trumpeter Herb Morand (1905-1950), who recorded with Frank Melrose and the Dodds brothers. Herb’s brother Maurice (or Morris) was the drummer on the 1932 “New Orleans Feetwarmers” session with Sidney Bechet, Tommy Ladnier and Hank Duncan. [BG]

Note: Lizzie Miles (1895-1963) recorded two blues numbers, I Hate a Man Like You and Don’t Tell Me Nothin’ ’Bout My Man with Jelly Roll Morton on 11th December 1929. [LM]

Roger Richard sends the following article from the Melody Maker and Rhythm, dated 30th June 1956, page 6, columns 1—2.

Melody Maker

Red Hot Pepper to Ink Spot!


HARRY PRATHER, bassist now touring Britain with Bill Kenny and the Ink Spots, confirmed to me his presence on Jelly Roll Morton’s recordings of “Tank Town Bump” and other titles made at Camden, New Jersey, in July, 1929, and showed a heartening readiness to talk of his days with the Red Hot Peppers. He then played tuba; it was several years later before he changed to string bass.

Harry is in his fiftieth year and has been in the music business since his late ’teens. His memory is excellent, and I was interested to learn of the many famous Jazzmen he had worked with.

It was in January, 1929, he joined Morton and he stayed with him until August, 1930.

During that period Morton had a contract to provide bands for a chain of 35 to 40 ballrooms in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Harry was in Philadelphia with a band led by veteran New Orleans clarinetist, George Baquet, when Morton asked him to join his group.

Baquet on records

The personnel then was: Walter Foots Thomas (alto, arranger); Paul Barnes (alto); Joe Thomas (tnr.); Dick Richards, Boyd “Red” Rossiter (tpts.); Charlie Irvis (tmb.); Rodriguez (pno.); Barney (bjo.); Joe Watts (drs.).

The group remained fairly constant, except that by the time of the Victor sessions, Briscoe and William Laws had replaced Richards and Watts. Baquet was added for the records only.
(see footnotes below)

Prather obviously respected Morton. Jelly treated him well, and seems at that time to have been pretty well liked. The band travelled in a 27-seater bus, with a gun for each man in the band — for Jelly put his faith in firearms!

He was also one for “public relations,” alighting first, greeting everybody and making himself known to the neighbourhood.

Management rackets

“He was a great talker, and could invent some fabulous lies,” says Harry, “but when it came to playing that piano, he could cut them all!”

“I last saw Jelly in New York toward the end of 1939. He was disgusted with the way the management racket had ruined the band business; he could not conceal his resentment at the gangsters who had moved into smart offices and wanted to take a big percentage of all he earned.”

“His health was poor, too, so he was talking of selling the rights to all his compositions and retiring to California. He was a wonderful man and musician, for whom I always had great respect. He did so much for jazz that it is good to see that a few people are still ready to give him the credit which is his due.”

Since those days, Harry Prather has worked around the eastern part of the USA, making New York his home, but occasionally visiting Chicago or Toronto.

He has played with bands led by Kid Punch Miller, Al Wynn, Sidney Bechet, Frankie Newton, Louis Jordan, Leon Abbey and Wilbur de Paris and during the war years worked for USO under alto player Herman “Humpy” Flintall.

His colleagues in the present Bill Kenny group are pianist Andy Maize, who has worked mainly with small groups and as an accompanist, and guitarist Everett Barksdale.

Note: Band member Harry Prather recalls that Jelly Roll Morton and members of his orchestra stayed at the Attucks Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa., while waiting for a recording session to come up. [MJL 64] “Nick” Rodriguez also remembers that, “. . . we were going to make some records and we stayed in Philadelphia and rode over to Camden — that’s an R.C.A. plant.” [J 91]

Note: The identity of the two trumpet players of this orchestra remained unresolved for many years. However, due to research by Theo Zwicky and Al Vollmer, positive identification of the orchestra members can now be confirmed as: Walter Briscoe (tp); Boyd Rosser (tp); Charlie Irvis (tb); George Baquet (cl); Walter Thomas, Paul Barnes (as); Joe Thomas (ts); Jelly Roll Morton (p); Barney Alexander (bj); Harry Prather (tu) and William Laws (d). [N 204-205] The extra pianist, Nicholas “Rod” Rodriguez, should not be forgotten, even though he does not play on the issued records, he did participate in the rehearsals.

 Brian Goggin sends the following article from the Utica Daily Press, dated Friday, 23rd August 1957, page 6, column 3.

Utica Daily Press

The Voice of Broadway

by Dorothy Kilgallen

. . . The cats at Birdland are pulling their goatees in amazement at the selection of Anthony Quinn to play the late great Jellyroll Morton on an upcoming TV show. They dig him as an actor, but as Jellyroll — well, that is a bit far out . . .

Prof. Albert Haim sends the following article from The Jazz Review magazine, dated May 1959, Vol. 2, No. 4, pages 12—14.

Jelly Roll Morton in New York
by Danny Barker

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated September 1959, Vol. 12, No. 9, pages 28—29.

A Portrait of William Russell
by Michael Slatter

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following obituary notice for Lizzie Miles from the Milestones column of the TIME magazine, dated 29th March 1963, Vol. LXXXI, No. 13, page 78, column 2.

Time Magazine


Died. Lizzie Miles (real name: Elizabeth Landreaux Pajaud), 68, one of the last of the great Negro blues shouters, a laughing, mountainous, born-and-bred Bourbon Streeter who belted them out for the jazz bands of Kid Ory, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller; of a heart attack; in New Orleans.

Note: Lizzie Miles (1895-1963) recorded two blues numbers, I Hate a Man Like You and Don’t Tell Me Nothin’ ’Bout My Man with Jelly Roll Morton on 11th December 1929. [LM]

Brian Goggin sends the following obituary notice for Johnny St. Cyr from Down Beat, dated 28th July 1966, page 10, columns 2—3 and page 11, column 1.

Down Beat

Johnny St. Cyr Dies

One of the pioneers of New Orleans jazz — Johnny St. Cyr — died June 17 at Los Angeles County General Hospital, exactly two months after his 76th birthday.

Born in New Orleans in 1890, St. Cyr played banjo and guitar and pursued an outside trade as a plasterer. For long periods, he freelanced around New Orleans and then periodically would leave music and work as a plasterer. He played with Armand Piron until 1909 and then spent two years with Martin Gabriel and with the Tuxedo Band.

In 1914 St. Cyr began his long and irregular association with Kid Ory. He subsequently played with Fate Marable’s band on Mississippi riverboats from 1917 to 1919. After spending two years with trumpeter Ed Alien, St. Cyr returned to plastering for a while and then headed north, working with King Oliver, Jimmie Noone, Charles Cook, and Doc Cook in Chicago.

During his time in Chicago, he achieved his greatest fame, recording with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, and the New Orleans Wanderers/Bootblacks, a group that included fellow Orleanians clarinetist Johnny Dodds and trombonist Ory.

By 1930 St. Cyr was back in New Orleans working at his trade and taking occasional gigs during the depression years. In 1951 he won the Record Changer all-time all-star poll as a banjoist.

Three years later he moved to Los Angeles, where he founded his own plaster-contracting firm. His dozen years in L.A. were happy ones, as he worked with members of the New Orleans Jazz Club of California and the Southern California Jazz Society.

His kind of music still flourishes in Orange County. That’s where Disneyland is located, and the amusement park was the scene of his last professional engagement, as a member of the Young Men of New Orleans, who play aboard a faithfully reproduced riverboat. That was Christmas, 1965. Aside from that, St. Cyr kept active musically with his own South Wall Street Barefoot Philharmonic — a group of amateur traditionalists who came to his S. Wall St. home for weekly jam sessions.

Last summer, St. Cyr fell asleep at the wheel of his car and hit an abutment on the Santa Ana Freeway. The car was wrecked, but St. Cyr managed to walk away from the crash. However, from that period on, his health declined. In the beginning of June, he was admitted to General Hospital, where his ailment was diagnosed as leukemia.

Bill Bacin, president of the New Orleans Jazz Club of California, remembers him as being “fiercely independent.” Bacin, on the occasion of St. Cyr’s 73rd birthday, went to New Orleans and tape-recorded birthday greetings from 55 of St. Cyr’s colleagues. It was one of St. Cyr’s most treasured possessions, and he often played the half-hour tribute.

St. Cyr is survived by his widow, Flora, and eight children.

Note: See also Brian Goggin’s essay of John Alexander St. Cyr accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal magazine, dated April 1968, Vol. 21, No. 4, pages 22—23.

Ragtime : A Re-evaluation
by David A. Jasen

Ate van Delden sends the following article from the Record Research magazine, dated May 1968, Issue 90, page 10.

Record Research





The enclosed note, addressed to me from George Shivers — Sunday Editor for the Atlantic City Press — may be of interest to enthusiasts of Jelly Roll Morton. The note was in response to a record review I did on RCA Victor LPV-546 “Mr. Jelly Lord.”

Atlantic City, N.J.


Having read your Morton column brings back memories. One in particular:

In 1937 I played with a “big” band in Washington, D.C. The band was known (at the time) as Andy Howard’s Collegians playing at the largest of the few niteries in town, the Cocoanut Grove. The band went under other names during its four years life: The Round-Towners, Howie Williams Orchestra, and others. Some of the men went on to greater things — Jimmy Middleton (bassist) went with Gene Krupa, Howie Williams became the St. Louis Browns Baseball announcer etc. but they are other stories.

One night during rehearsal (we rehearsed between 3 and 5 a.m. at the club in those days) we noticed a Negro man sitting at a table in the rear of the room in the dark. We assumed he was an employee and paid no further attention. This went on for about four nights until we noted he was poorly dressed but wearing a huge diamond tie pin and a huge diamond ring (they caught the light).

One of the boys asked him who he was and what he was doing there. He said his name was “Morton” — and
[]I’ve got a little club up on T
* street. I just like to come down and listen to your band, I think it’s the best in town.”

After a little more conversation we learned he was the immortal but almost forgotten Jelly Roll Morton. He said he had written a little something he’d like us to try. It was written especially for our instrumentation.

We agreed to give it a run-through, and he passed out the parts.

The thing didn’t have a name and I doubt if it ever was published or played anywhere. You see — we couldn’t play it!!

It was the wildest, most progressive, yet still reeked of dixie — it was unexplainable. Morton couldn’t explain it himself. He said it was just something new he tried.

We asked him to sit down and play a little. He did!

We sat and listened to “the kind of piano that you can’t forget”, for about an hour-and-a-half.

Morton owned a small club in the Negro part of town where he was his own chief cook, bottle-washer, bouncer and pianist. He’d sit under a blue light in that little smoke-filled room and play the piano — and nobody listened. That’s why he came down to play for us (he said) so he could play for someone who could appreciate his talent just once again.

Shortly after that he died — within a couple of years I think.

Just thought the tale would interest you.


* This should be U Street. The location of the Blue Moon nightclub, formerly named the Jungle Inn and later the Music Box, was at 1211 U Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Dan Morgenstern sends the following obituary notice for Voltaire DeFaut from Down Beat, dated 16th August 1973, Vol. 40, No. 14, pages 13 and 42.

Down Beat


Clarinetist Volley (Volly) DeFaut, 69, was found dead in his house trailer in South Chicago Heights May 29.

Born in Little Rock and raised in Chicago, Voltaire DeFaut was best known for his recorded work in the 1920s with Muggsy Spanier (The Bucktown Five and Stomp Six) and Jelly Roll Morton; during this decade he also played with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Freddie Keppard, Art Kassel, Merritt Brunies and Isham Jones, among others.

With Jean Goldkette 1928-29, DeFaut subsequently worked for almost a decade on staff at WGN in Chicago. He also ran his own dog-breeding business. In the mid-’40s, he began to gig again (he recorded with Art Hodes in 1953) and was still playing quite often around Chicago in 1973, using an electronic amplifying device for his clarinet.

Influenced by Leon Roppolo and Jimmie Noone, DeFaut was one of the first non-New Orleanians to master the clarinet style associated with that city.

— d.m.

Note: Voltaire (Volly) DeFaut (14th March 1904—29th May 1973) recorded two tunes with Jelly Roll Morton, My Gal and Wolverine Blues. The recordings took place at the Marsh Recording Laboratories Inc., Lyon & Healy Building, 78 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago in May 1925 and were issued on the rare Autograph record label. [VDF]

Note: See also Ate van Delden’s excellent in-depth article on Voltaire DeFaut, which includes a discography and several rare photographs. [AVD]

Peter Vickers sends the following obituary notice for Joe Garland from the Jazz Journal International magazine, dated July 1977, Vol. 30, No. 7 page 35, column 3.

Jazz Journal International



On April 21, of cancer, aged 69. A veteran reed man, playing principally tenor, but also baritone and bass saxes, Joe Garland played with many of the great bands, including those of Jelly Roll Morton, Don Redman, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Claude Hopkins; he was also arranger with Louis Armstrong, 1939-47. By a strange and sad coincidence, Joe’s brother Moses Garland, the trumpet player, died the same week. Together the Garland brothers used to run a fine band in New York, which included many famous names.

Note: Joe Garland recorded two outstanding tunes, Red Hot Pepper—Stomp and Deep Creek—Blues with Jelly-Roll Morton and His Orchestra on 6th December 1928. [RHP]

Peter Vickers sends the following article from the Jazz Journal International magazine, dated October 1985, Vol. 38, No. 10, pages 14—15.

The Forgotten Ones
Henry Levine
by Nick Dellow

Millie Gaddini sends the following article from “Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz” by Teddy Wilson, with Arie Ligthart and Humphrey van Loo, published by Cassell, London and New York, 1996, pages 43 and 47—48.

Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz

Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz

by Teddy Wilson

Contrary to popular belief, Benny Goodman was not the first to introduce small groups to jazz. Even when I was at school I had recordings of Jelly Roll Morton’s trio with drums, piano and clarinet. There was Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, and Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer and Red Nichols also had small groups — remember the Five Pennies? But what I think can be said from a historical point of view is that credit must go to Goodman for having introduced for the first time public performances by an interracial small jazz group. [TW 43]

I have said that the Benny Goodman Trio was not original in jazz because of its smallness; it was original because it was interracial and played publicly as such. The question remains: what was musically new about it? I think the instant success of the trio recordings was due to the refreshing quality they had. The bass was absent and you got a good chance to hear the way I was using the left hand on the piano, coordinating it with Krupa’s bass drum. The simple answer is, I think, that there was no sound like it on records then.

The other obvious parallel that comes to mind is the Jelly Roll Morton Trio, but that was ten years earlier. Jelly was using a very different style from mine, to start with, and his clarinet player, Omer Simeon, had quite a different style from Benny Goodman. Of course, there was Gene Krupa’s sound on drums, and there was a big difference there, because Jelly’s drummer
* wasn’t even using a sock cymbol, a very important instrument in the jazz drummer’s armament. The Benny Goodman Trio therefore represented a very new sound. That’s what made it unique and in that sense I suppose you could say it was a first in its own way. [TW 47-48]

* Teddy Wilson is referring to drummer Tommy Benford, who, along with Omer Simeon and Jelly Roll Morton, recorded Shreveport Stomp on 11th June 1928.

Blanche Newton and Lillian L. Stevenson send the following excerpt from the 1940s section of the “Golden Leafs of Time” : ‘Histories of the Alumni of Myrtle Creek’ by Arlene Mickelson Struck, published 2004, page 19.

Golden Leafs of Time: Histories of the Alumni of Myrtle Creek



by Arlene Mickelson Struck

. . . Of course I don’t remember the year, but shortly after we moved to Myrtle Creek, there was a very cold winter. My father took out his ice skates that he had used in Minnesota and skated down the sidewalk. Also, we were awakened one night by the roar of a meteor passing over the area. Oh, and then another evening, we looked out of the bedroom window to a fight going on up the street at the bar. Soon there were gunshots! There was a great restaurant where we would go on Sundays sometimes. The fried chicken was delicious.  They also had a monkey in the kitchen, but we never ate that.  It was their pet!  I am sure this was Ford’s Restaurant, located between Canyonville and Myrtle Creek on Old Highway 99. . . .

Note: Ford’s Restaurant, owned by Jack (John Francis) Ford and Anita Gonzales Ford, was located on the old Pacific Highway 99, a few miles north of Canyonville, Oregon. It was opened in 1927, and by 1928 Jack Ford had established a garage and service station, selling gasoline under an agreement with the Standard Oil Company of California. Jack and Anita’s adopted son Henry Ford (Enrique Villalpando) worked as a chef at the restaurant in the late 1940s.


Neil Aldridge (UK)
Derek Coller (UK)
Ate van Delden (Netherlands)
Nick Dellow (UK)
Millie Gaddini (USA)
Brian Goggin (Eire)
Robert S. Greene (USA)
Prof. Lawrence Gushee (USA)
Richard Hadlock (USA)
Bill Haesler (Australia)
Peter Hanley (Australia)
Michael Hill (Australia)
Eric Holroyd (Australia)

Harold C. Hopkins (USA)
David A. Jasen (USA)
Floyd Levin (USA)
Peter Magee (Australia)
Donald M. Marquis (USA)
Sonny McGown (USA)
Daniel Meyer (USA)
Dan Morgenstern (USA)
John Morris (Australia)
Blanche Newton (USA)
Erik Nordskog (USA)
Mike Nordskog (USA)
Dr. Philip Pastras (USA)

Dr. Robert Pinsker (USA)
Luigi Ranalli (Italy)
Roger Richard (France)
John Simmen (Switzerland)
Frederick J. Spencer M.D. (USA)
Lillian L. Stevenson (USA)
Arlene Mickelson Struck (USA)
Butch Thompson (USA)
Peter Vickers (UK)
Paige van Vorst (USA)
Prof. Alan Wallace (USA)
Laurie Wright (UK)
Peggy Wright (UK)

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