Doctor Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton


An unlikely encounter between folklore archivist Alan Lomax and jazz composer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton led to some remarkable recordings for the Library of Congress of Morton speaking, singing, and playing. This article recounts the events that led to the historic meeting and explores the significance of the life and music captured in the recordings. The article contains a wealth of information on Morton’s early life, his uneven career, his incisive and wide-ranging views on jazz and related musical forms, and his central place in the development and dissemination of jazz.

This JSO resource originally appeared in different form as part of the release by Rounder Records in 2005 of Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax.

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contredanse, quadrille, spanish tinge, storyvilee, stride piano, tiger rag