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Jelly Roll Morton

Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (October 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941), known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer. Morton was jazz's first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential characteristics when notated. His composition "Jelly Roll Blues", published in 1915, was one of the first published jazz compositions. Morton also wrote "King Porter Stomp", "Wolverine Blues", "Black Bottom Stomp", and "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say", the last a tribute to New Orleans musicians from the turn of the 20th century.

Morton's claim to have invented jazz in 1902 was criticized. Music critic Scott Yanow wrote, "Jelly Roll Morton did himself a lot of harm posthumously by exaggerating his worth...Morton's accomplishments as an early innovator are so vast that he did not really need to stretch the truth." Gunther Schuller says of Morton's "hyperbolic assertions" that there is "no proof to the contrary" and that Morton's "considerable accomplishments in themselves provide reasonable substantiation". In 2013, Katy Martin published an article arguing that Alan Lomax's book of interviews put Morton in a negative light. Lomax disagreed that Morton was an egotist. "In being called a supreme egotist, Jelly Roll was often a victim of loose and lurid reporting. If we read the words that he himself wrote, we learn that he almost had an inferiority complex and said that he created his own style of jazz piano because 'All my fellow musicians were much faster in manipulations, I thought than I, and I did not feel as though I was in their class.' So he used a slower tempo to permit flexibility through the use of more notes, a pinch of Spanish to give a number of right seasoning, the avoidance of playing triple forte continuously, and many other points". – Quoted in John Szwed, Dr. Jazz.

Birth and Death Data: Born October 20th, 1890 (Gulfport), Died July 10th, 1941 (Los Angeles)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1921 - 1940

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, piano, leader, director, vocalist, speaker, lyricist, songwriter, arranger

Notes: Some disc labels credit as Ferd. Morton.

Recordings (Results 151-165 of 165 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Brunswick C1629-C1630 10-in. 1/21/1928 Midnight mama Levee Serenaders Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo leader, lyricist, composer  
Brunswick C1631-C1632 10-in. 1/21/1928 Mr. Jelly Lord Levee Serenaders Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo leader, composer, lyricist  
Brunswick C1654-C1655 10-in. 1/23/1928 Wolverine blues Benny Goodman's Boys Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick LA92-LA94 10-in. Jan. 1926 Chicago breakdown Sonny Clay’s Plantation Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick TC2365 10-in. 9/29/1928 Wolverine blues Ray Mayer Piano solo composer  
Brunswick E27638 10-in. 6/4/1928 Jungle blues Benny Goodman's Boys Jazz/dance band composer  
Brunswick [Vo cat 1028-a] 10-in. approximately June 1926 Dead man blues Alberta Hunter Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano composer  
Edison 9173 10-in. 9/22/1923 The Jelly Roll blues The Original Memphis Five Jazz/dance ensemble composer  
Edison 11292 10-in. 11/10/1926 Black Bottom stomp Red and Miff's Stompers Jazz/dance band composer  
Edison 11361 10-in. 12/9/1926 Sidewalk blues Golden Gate Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Edison 11403 10-in. 12/28/1926 Windy City blues (Black Bottom rhythm) Joe Candullo ; Everglades Orchestra Jazz/dance band songwriter  
Vocalion E4018-E4019 10-in. 10/28/1926 Milenberg joys Lethia Hill Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band composer  
Vocalion 399½-401 10-in. 2/20/1925 King Porter stomp Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Vocalion 665W-666W 10-in. 4/8/1925 Kansas City stomps Tennessee Tooters Jazz/dance band composer  
Vocalion 921W-923W 10-in. 6/23/1925 Milenberg joys Tennessee Tooters Jazz/dance band composer  
(Results 151-165 of 165 records)


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Morton, Jelly Roll," accessed June 23, 2021,

Morton, Jelly Roll. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved June 23, 2021, from

"Morton, Jelly Roll." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 23 June 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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