Jelly's Blues

Jelly's Blues

The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton

Book - 2003
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Jelly's Blues vividly recounts the tumultuous life of Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), born Ferdinand Joseph Lamonthe to a large, extended family in New Orleans. A virtuoso pianist with a larger-than-life personality, he composed such influential early jazz pieces as Kansas City Stomp" and "New Orleans Blues." But by the late 1930s, Jelly Roll Morton was nearly forgotten as a visionary jazz composer. Instead, he was caricatured as a braggart, a hustler, and, worst of all, a has-been. He wasridiculed by the white popular press and robbed of due royalties by unscrupulous music publishers. His reputation at rock bottom, Jelly Roll Morton seemed destined to be remembered more as a flamboyant, diamond-toothed rounder than as the brilliant architect of that new American musical idiom: Jazz.In 1992, the death of a New Orleans memorabilia collector unearthed a startling archive. Here were unknown later compositions as well as correspondence, court and copyright records, all detailing Morton's struggle to salvage his reputation, recover lost royalties, and protect the publishing rights of black musicians. Morton was a much more complex and passionate man than many had realized, fiercely dedicated to his art and possessing an unwavering belief in his own genius, even as he toiled in poverty and obscurity. An especially immediate and visceral look into the jazz worlds of New Orleans and Chicago, Jelly's Blues is the definitive biography of a jazz icon, and a long overdue look at one of the twentieth century's most important composers."
Publisher: Cambridge : Da Capo Press, c2003
ISBN: 9780306812095
Branch Call Number: 781.65092 Morto-R
Characteristics: xiv, 288 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. --
Additional Contributors: Gaines, William
Alternative Title: Jelly Roll Morton


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Nov 05, 2014

The legacy of Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton has been marginalized in recent years by jazz critics. This book does much to set that right, and it is a wonderfully written and engrossing biography.

Morton was the first great composer of jazz; Morton almost singlehandedly transformed ragtime composition into jazz; Morton was the first to notate New Orleans polyphony and blues correctly; and finally, Morton was an incredible jazz pianist.

Mr. Jelly Roll is at least as important to the legacy of the music as Ellington, if not more. Reich's book is a fitting tribute to a great musician.

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