Jelly Roll Morton: Sidewalk Blues (Take 3)
Sidewalk Blues (Take 3)
Jelly Roll Morton (piano)
Birth of the Hot: The Classic 'Red Hot Peppers' Sessions, 1926-1927 (RCA/Bluebird 66641-2)
George Mitchell (cornet), Omer Simeon, Darnell Howard (clarinets), John Lindsay (bass), Andrew Hilaire (drums); spoken dialogue by Morton and St. Cyr, sound effects by Marty Bloom.
Composed by Jelly Roll Morton.
Recorded: Chicago, September 21, 1926
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
According to Rex Stewart's fine book, Jazz Masters of the '30s, Omer Simeon was elsewhere for this track, and the young and already excellent Barney Bigard filled in, with added clarinet backing from Darnell Howard. That explanation rings true, since it makes little sense to have three clarinets on a small group session with only one cornet and one trombone.
In any case, there is no doubt about one thing: Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers sides of 1926 are among the greatest early jazz recordings. This track, in my judgment, is one of the three best. It opens with vaudeville-style sound effects and a silly-fun spoken dialogue (between Morton and Johnny St. Cyr), then a piano phrase, some fine trombone and clarinet work lead into a beaut of a clarinet solo (probably by Bigard). Thereafter the band romps through this marvelous number. In summary, it is the best of New Orleans ensemble jazz, with excellent solo contributions on piano, trombone, clarinet and cornet, all within the framework of a fine Morton composition and performed to perfection for recording after Jelly had thoroughly rehearsed the band. Simply put, it's hugely enjoyable music.
Reviewer: Dean Alger
If you liked this track, also check out
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Jelly Roll Morton Tracks by Rob Bamberger
Jelly Roll Morton by David Tenenholtz
A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks edited by Ted Gioia