CD Reviews

Music on the Web (UK)

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke



Bluebird's Best CD 09026 63899 2

Amazon UK

Jelly Roll Morton, piano, vocal, with varied personnel including : George Mitchell, cornet; Ward Pinkett, Sidney De Paris,trumpet; Kid Ory, Charlie Irvis, Claude Jones, trombone; Omer Simeon, Albert Nicholas, clarinet; Sidney Bechet, soprano saxophone; Johnny St. Cyr, banjo, guitar; Andrew Hilaire, Baby Dodds, Tommy Benford, Zutty Singleton, drums.

Recorded Chicago and New York 1926 - 1939

All tracks by Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers except 11,12&14 by Jelly Roll Morton and His Orchestra and 15 by Jelly Roll Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen.

1. Black Bottom Stomp
2. Steamboat Stomp
3. Cannon Ball Blues
4. Doctor Jazz
5. Jungle Blues
6. Original Jelly-Roll Blues
7. Someday, Sweetheart
8. The Pearls
9. Shreveport
10. Mournful Serenade
11. Red Hot Pepper
12. New Orleans Bump
13. Blue Blood Blues
14. Gamblin' Jack
15. Winin' Boy Blues

Jelly Roll Morton, the self -styled inventor of Jazz, had a career as a recording artist which ran from 1923-1940. The selections on this disc are from the years 1926-1930, arguably Morton's most productive period, certainly his most innovative and influential time, with one track from 1939 to complete matters. For all of his boastful nature, an aspect of his personality which caused antagonism from such diverse personalities as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Morton was able to back many of his claims through his musical talent and versatility. Ever the showman he could nevertheless deliver the goods on many different levels.

One of the most important aspects of Morton's recordings is his use of a controlled ensemble. In many cases the band is no larger than the three front line and rhythm of the classic New Orleans group, but other than in the improvised solos, very little is left to chance. Indeed one can hear the origins of subsequent big bands in these sides, particularly on some of the later ones which feature slightly larger forces. This sense of discipline is one of the defining characteristics of Morton's style.

Jelly was not afraid to experiment as can be heard with the imaginative, and for that time, highly unusual use of the bass clarinet and violin on "Someday Sweetheart." His humorous vocals can be heard on such favourites as "Doctor Jazz" and "Winin' Boy Blues". His rhythm sections, even those which use the tuba instead of the string bass, are always swinging and often possessed of a light drive and feel not commonly found on records from this era. Morton always seemed to manage to book some of the best players for his sessions.

There are some tracks such as "Shreveport" and "Mournful Serenade", which use quite small groups, possibly a forunner of later "chamber" style groups . These not only show off Morton's piano playing but serve as a showcase for the undoubted abilities of Omer Simeon on clarinet. Mention must also be made of the excellent drumming of Tommy Benford, and on the latter track, the wonderful trombone of Geechie Fields. The final tune on this disc is an all star occasion with Sidney De Paris on trumpet, Sidney Bechet on soprano saxophone and the much underrated Albert Nicholas on clarinet.

To sum up, this is possibly as good a compilation of the recordings of Jelly Roll Morton as is currently available and should appeal not only to the Morton fans but also to anyone with an interest in early Jazz or to anyone who is curious as to the evolution and development of the music. I thought this disc was great fun !

Dick Stafford



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: