Jelly Roll Morton: New Orleans Blues (The Spanish Tinge)
New Orleans Blues (The Spanish Tinge)
Jelly Roll Morton (piano)
The Complete Library of Congress Recordings (Rounder 11661-18882)
Jelly Roll Morton (piano).
Composed by Jelly Roll Morton.
Recorded: Washington, D.C., May-June 1940
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
New Orleans piano didn't start with Jelly Roll Morton, who paid his own respects to such earlier Storyville habitues as Sammy Davis and Tony Jackson. However, the self-styled "Inventor of Jazz" was first to record, and his Library of Congress recordings make for fascinating listening as he recounts the long and winin'-boy history of NOLA Music.
While Morton's subsequent decades of success helped inspire other Creole pianists like Joe Robicheaux and Armand Hug, the track "New Orleans Blues" (1940) serves double duty. Its syncopation is laced with traces of ragtime and the sporting parlor, and the cut's flowing series of variations eventually lead to a restrained stomp-it-off coda. Morton discovered the tune around 1902 (aided by Joe Jordan and Frank Richards), but, on this recording, he introduces a multi-part dissection of the "Spanish Tinge" in New Orleans jazz that, debatably, forms the music's bed-rocking foundation. As the Jelly rolls on, Morton holds the habanera/tango rhythms steady on the left hand and thereby creates a solid base/bass from which his right hand is free to play in a variety of styles that range from balladsy to bluesy to brisk.
Morton's LoC tapes are proof positive of his brilliance as a composer, pianist, and singer.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher
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
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