Jelly Roll Morton: Michigan Water Blues


Michigan Water Blues


Jelly Roll Morton (piano, vocals)


Last Sessions: The Complete General Recordings (Verve 403)

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Jelly Roll Morton (piano, vocals).

Composed by Clarence Williams


Recorded: New York, December 18, 1939


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

Jelly Roll Morton was many things: pianist, composer, bandleader, bartender, bouncer, raconteur and self-proclaimed inventor of jazz. He wasn't, however, a singer. Not that anything so trivial ever deterred Jelly Roll. Here he vocally extols Michigan, where "water tastes like sherry wine," compared to Mississippi water, which "tastes like turpentine." Skepticism is advised when considering early jazzmen's evaluations of water, a substance they imbibed only under duress. Even so, Jelly Roll's world-weary but still cocky voice and minimalist piano playing bring to this blues a serene maturity as cool and refreshing as Great Lakes water. An old master at work.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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