Click to enlarge photograph

Jelly Roll Morton’s New Orleans Jazzmen
at the RCA Manufacturing Company, Inc., studio #3 in New York, N.Y.
14th September 1939

This photograph was taken on the day of Morton’s first Bluebird recording session in 1939. From left to right: Claude Jones, Sidney Bechet, Sidney de Paris, Zutty Singleton, Albert Nicholas, Jelly Roll Morton, Happy Caldwell, Lawrence Lucie.

The photograph was taken by Charles Peterson. He was born in 1900, played banjo during his high school and university years. He joined the bands of Wingy Manone and Rudy Vallee and appeared on many records and in some films. Around 1931 he became a professional photographer for top magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and Time. In this capacity he became a leading photographer in the jazz scene.

Peterson died in 1976, leaving behind 5000 jazz photographs. A selection of these were published in 1994: Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson. On page 165 of this book the story behind his single Jelly Roll Morton photograph is given. [24]  Peterson happened to be around when Morton had this record date, but he had no camera with him. So he borrowed a twin lens reflex, but unfortunately it had only one unexposed frame left on its roll. He felt very sorry that he could not do a full series of shots of Morton at work.

This picture was first published in Art Hodes’ magazine The Jazz Record, issue No. 41, dated February 1946. It was also reproduced in Selections From The Gutter, a collection of articles from The Jazz Record, published in 1977, page 94.

Shown in Mr. Jelly Lord (1980) by Laurie Wright, page 217 and in Oh, Mister Jelly (1999) edited by William Russell, page 498, both with guitar player Lawrence Lucie cut off.

courtesy of Ate van Delden

2004 Ate van Delden Collection

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