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Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole…

by Alan Lomax

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1292152,975 (3.73)5
When it appeared in 1950, this biography of Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton became an instant classic of jazz literature. Now back in print and updated with a new afterword by Lawrence Gushee, Mister Jelly Roll will enchant a new generation of readers with the fascinating story of one of the world's most influential composers of jazz. Jelly Roll's voice spins out his life in something close to song, each sentence rich with the sound and atmosphere of the period in which Morton, and jazz, exploded on the American and international scene. This edition includes scores of Jelly Roll's own arrangements, a discography and an updated bibliography, a chronology of his compositions, a new genealogical tree of Jelly Roll's forebears, and Alan Lomax's preface from the hard-to-find 1993 edition of this classic work. Lawrence Gushee's afterword provides new factual information and reasserts the importance of this work of African American biography to the study of jazz and American culture.… (more)



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Jelly Roll Morton was not a humble man, the most famous example is his flat statement, "I invented Jazz." Well, he's not far off. While reading this I realized Morton was performing his "jazz" while the great Louis Armstrong was still in diapers. The book was OK but Lomax's work at getting the Library of Congress recordings of Mr. Morton telling the story of jazz with musical examples was what brought me to the book. Listen to the recordings if you have the slightest interest in jazz and one of it's most colorful characters. Morton was a genius. There is a comparison in the book with Morton and Muhammed Ali and how they both claimed to be the greatest and how they were in fact, at least in their time, that which they claimed. ( )
  gemtea | Jul 17, 2014 |
This book is a classic of jazz biography and oral history. It was first published in 1950, based on the recordings and interviews conducted in the end of the thirties by Allan Lomax for the Library of Congress, where he, together with his father John Lomax, created the Archive of American Folk Song and were responsible for innumerous and important interviews and recordings of American folk music, blues and early jazz, with a large number of its original practitioners that, in most cases, would have remained in total obscurity without their endevour. Jelly Roll Morton, born in 1890 in New Orleans, was the first great jazz composer, arranger, and band leader, and its first recorded great pianist, famous for his boastful claim of having "invented jazz in 1902". He was also a pool player, a gambler, and a pimp. Having achieved some notority in the twenties and early thirties with a wonderful series of recordings for RCA Victor with his Red Hot Peppers, he has gone down oblivion by the time Lomax interviewed him, and this book was largely responsible for his postumous recognition as one of the great early jazz creators. His colourful life and the lively first person speach of most of the chapters turned the reading of this book into a deligthful time. And to listen to his RCA Victor recordings and to his Library of Congress music recordings published by Rounder while reading the book was a very enjoyable experience indeed. ( )
  FPdC | May 27, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Lomaxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amis, KingsleyForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, David StoneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Recorded at the Library of Congress in 1938
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