Jelly Roll Morton: Doctor Jazz


Doctor Jazz


Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers


The Jelly Roll Morton Centennial --- His Complete Victor Recordings (RCA 078635236125)

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Jelly Roll Morton (piano, vocals), George Mitchell (cornet), Kid Ory (trombone), Omer Simeon (clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), John Lindsay (bass), Andrew Hilaire (drums).

Composed by Jelly Roll Morton


Recorded: Chicago, December 16, 1926


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Morton sometimes worked as an entertainer during his nomadic years, and fancied himself a great comic. But the sketch openings on a few of his records reveal that Morton’s sense of humor was devoid of subtlety for anything but a tent show audience. Morton’s inability to outgrow the conventions of early twentieth-century vaudeville account in part for the lack of common ground between Morton and the new generation of swing musicians in New York during the 1930s. However, as a singer and raconteur, Morton was nonpareil, as he is on “Dr. Jazz.” Jelly’s elongated “Well” at the start of his vocal (more like “Wal-l-l-l-llll”) sounds like a cicada with strep and draws us right to the side of ‘ole Dr. Jazz.

Reviewer: Rob Bamberger

If you liked this track, also check out

Jelly Roll Morton: Jungle Blues
Jelly Roll Morton: Sidewalk Blues
Jelly Roll Morton: Dead Man Blues

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  • 1 Dean Alger // Mar 11, 2009 at 08:07 PM
    For those not so familiar with Jelly Roll Morton’s music, I’d like to add a bit on the music, since the review focuses mainly on the Morton story (and the critique of his humorous sketches applies to other tracks like "Dead Man Blues," not this one). To my mind, this is one of the best of the important Red Hot Peppers sides. It is superb classic New Orleans-style jazz, beautifully played. The tune is by Joe Oliver, not Jelly Roll, but with his arrangement and the verve of his singing and playing, he makes it his own. This rousing, fine ensemble playing is highly enjoyable music that will appeal to many; it includes a fairly unique bass clarinet part woven through the song that adds an interesting dimension. The review notes Morton’s delightful jazzy singing, with a special Jelly Roll flair.
  • 2 Roger Strong // May 24, 2009 at 05:14 AM
    I absolutely agree with the above and would add that the great trumpet work is from a largely forgotten jazzman George Mitchell who plays a wonderfully lead. Morton was wonderful at giving the musicians a strong framework to work with-indeed many of the alternate takes show how arranged many of these classic perfomances were. Classic jazz!