Jelly Roll Morton: Jungle Blues
Jelly Roll Mortonís Red Hot Peppers
Birth of the Hot 1926-1927 (RCA 66641)
Gerald Reeves (trombone), Stump Evans (alto sax), Quinn Wilson (tuba), Lew LeMar (effects).
Recorded: Chicago, June 4, 1927
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Before becoming jazz's first great composer, Jelly Roll Morton spent years entertaining within the bizarre Black Minstrelsy tradition, where Afro-Americans (often in blackface) perpetuated the demeaning routines popularized by earlier generations of white minstrels. Thus, for Morton, associating jazz with the jungle was a familiar appeal to the basest expectations of white audiences. "Jungle Blues," with its insistent rhythm and unchanging harmony, is Roaring '20s primitivism in which the jazzman embodies the noble savage to titillate the suppressed sensuality of sophisticated whites. Dressing Uncle Tom in a tuxedo instead of plantation tatters was progress, but not much.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz
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