LEANER YEARS IN NEW YORK, 1931 – 1936
Touring   Work thins out   Other businesses

Karl Ellison sends the following article from The Baltimore Afro-American, dated Saturday, 11th April 1931, page 9, column 7.


The Baltimore Afro American

Other Fall-Ins

Horace Henderson and His Band are at the Rockland Palace, Jelly Roll Morton and gang at the Checker Club, George (Shipps) Mason and Henry Davis at the Last Stop Inn, Cora LaRedd at the Cotton Club, and Duke Miller at Small’s Paradise. All nice to fall in for a pleasant evening.

Note: The Checker Club was located at 2493 Seventh Avenue, New York City.

Brian Goggin sends the following article for a previously unknown Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers engagement at Cliffside Park, Indiana, Pennsylvania from the Indiana Evening Gazette, dated Thursday, 28th May 1931, page 2, column 6.


Indiana Evening Gazette

“JELLY ROLL” MORTON
AT CLIFFSIDE PARK

“Jelly Roll” Morton and has (sic) famous “Red Hot Peppers,” will be the musical attraction at the Cliffside Park dance Friday night. Morton’s orchestra is nationally known and has played from coast to coast. This Victory (sic) Recording Orchestra has 20 popular Victor records to their credit. A treat is in store for music and dance lovers who attend the dance Friday night.

Note: The above article is from the Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania. In 1925 there was a disastrous fire at Cliffside Park.

Laurie Wright sends the following article from The Baltimore Afro-American, dated Saturday, 30th May 1931.


The Baltimore Afro American

NEW YORK — May, 29

The Jamaica Theater, operating Mutual burlesque, scheduled to close its season this week, has postponed closing for another week in order to allow Jellyroll (Jelly Roll) Morton and his “Speeding Along” revue to play the house. There are 45 people in the cast of the show.

Laurie Wright sends the following article from the New York Age, dated Saturday, 6th June 1931, page 7, column 5.


New York Age

By PERCIVAL OUTRAM

“Jelly Roll” Morton, pianist and composer, booked for a week’s work at a Jamaica Theatre, has found himself in a peck of trouble involving the producer of the show the house manager and the members of the orchestra.

Hearing the producer was drawing money nightly “Jelly Roll” appealed to the house manager, and eventually to Local 802, and Sgt.-at-Arms Minton was put on the case. The house manager agreed to assume the responsibility for Saturday and Sunday’s shows rather than having the orchestra close on Decoration Day matinee, as was threatened.

Sgt-at-Arms Minton made a personal trip to Jamaica to adjust the matter but the volubility of “Jelly Roll” nearly disrupted proceedings, it is alleged.

The producer of the show admitted nightly drawings of cash for necessities, but disclaimed any improper motives, pointing out that his contract with “Jelly Roll” called for payment at the end of the week, by which he would abide.

The curtain was detained fifteen minutes on Decoration Day matinee until Minton was consulted. On Sunday night the sgt.-at-arms again visited the Jamaica Theatre to collect the musicians’ weeks’ salary. The house manager kept his word and paid Minton $99.96, the amount he accepted for the responsibility.

The show manager and producer, however, according to Minton, had no money to pay the musicians.

Local 802 might place the show producer on the unfair list, which will debar him from producing another show until the full amount, nearly $400, is paid “Jelly Roll” and his musicians.

This was a colored show with a colored producer.

Note: The New York Age was one of the most prominent African-American papers in this period. A weekly, it was co-owned and edited by T. Thomas Fortune, a strong supporter of Booker T. Washington. The paper began publication in 1888 and closed down in 1967.

 Mark Miller sends the following pictorial advert announcing a forthcoming previously unknown engagement featuring Jellyroll Morton and His Hot Peppers at Lake Amenia, NY, from The Harlem Valley Times, dated Thursday, 20th August 1931, page 10, column 6.



The Harlem Valley Times

Saturday, Aug. 22
Dance! Lake Amenia

Amenia, N.Y.

Return engagement of
Jellyroll Morton and His
Hot Peppers


Victor Recording Orchestra
That great colored band of ten
artists direct from Broadway.


Hot Music - Pep Entertainers
DON’T MISS!

The September 1931 issue of The Orchestra World mentions that: “Five Orchestras presented by Harry Moss are playing continued engagements during the Late Summer and Fall”. Listed is: “Jelly Roll Morton on tour through Pennsylvania.” Courtesy of Richard Johnson. [K 40]

Karl Ellison sends the following article from The Baltimore Afro-American, dated Saturday, 9th January 1932, page 9, column 1.


The Baltimore Afro American

BILLY YOUNG TOOK
NAME FROM FATHER

Spends Life Helping Two Younger Sisters

This story is not new by any means. The cast is changed, the plot’s the same. It was old when Shakespeare first wrote of unrequited love and long before. The characters themselves are antiquated too. The names are now and in this simple fact lies the story of Billie Young.

Billie Young, the buxom stage comedienne, is like many other less celebrated personages, a link in that endless chain of love, in which the one she loves loves someone else, and the one who loves her she can’t love, and so everybody is supremely miserable.

All these things and more I gathered from Billie’s diary which she had the faith to lend to me. The notes started way back in 1907 when she first landed in America from her native San Domingo, where she was christened Lolita La Blanche Guerro. Her father was the well known comedian, Clever Billy Young, whose name she took when she decided to go upon the stage herself, a craving that was present in her mind when she was only ten.

The diary at this early age shows her saying: “A girl asked me to run away and go on a carnival with her today, but I was afraid. I wish that I was a little older.” Later the diary tells how she and her father were forced from Houston, Texas on the day that Jack Johnson beat Jim Jeffries and they found haven in Louisiana.

Loved Father

The idol of Billie’s younger life was her actor father. Occasional references to him are found throughout the little book. One place we read: “My father sure is a lady’s man. He has lots of fine lady friends and three living wives, all of which seem to love the ground he walks on.”

At another point we read: “Gee, I wish my father would stop drinking so hard. None of the girls will have anything to do with me because of him. I think I will run away and go on the stage. It is unbearable living in this small town.”

Later in 1914 we read: “My father is dead, and now I must make my own way in the world. I have thre (three) sisters and must look out for them. I got $100 more than I ever had at one time in my life. Now I can get a lot of clothes at the second-hand store and go on the stage.”

In “Smarter Set”

After numerous tries cited in which failure was most persistent, she finally landed in Whitney and Tutt’s “Smarter Set” as a chorus girl. And then one day, according to the diary, one of the stars, the wife of Luke Scott, died and she was given a chance to sing a song. This paved the way for a real stage career. She later teamed with Bessie Oliver [a]nd after her death she teamed with Eloise Johnson, now Eloise Bennett.

In 1920 she married Laborn Horsey in New Orleans. Later he went to Europe, where he is now, one of the “Three Eddies,” and the diary says one day: “I hear Labourn has married an English girl and is never coming back to America.”

It was not until about 1924 that “my tall, handsome man” began to creep into the diary and his re-appearance is most frequent from that time on.

He moves from a “chance acquaintance” to “the only love of my life.” A log is kept of his goings and comings day by day. We find him in New Orleans a while, and then in Chicago, and love for him grows in torridness and poetry and happiness seeps through the daily tabulations. One day we find this poem wedged in between the notations:

              WISHING

Wishing some and dreaming some,
Nothing else to do;
Sighing some and smiling some,
Thinking some of you.
Hoping some and fretting some,
Lonesome as can be,
Wondering if that someone
Is thinking of me?

Shattered Romance

Then as suddenly as it started there came a crash. The “tall handsome man” disappears. Out of her life and the diary he goes, only to reappear again with this simple notation: “Now I know the truth. He loves Gloria, although she cut him and treats him awful, while I who love him most must go on alone.”

The diary from then on takes on a saddened aspect. Each day there seems an added emptiness, a reaching after something that cannot be obtained. From this point on the inner self of this comedienne is quite forgotten. She lives for her two sisters, Lillian and Dorothy. She takes Lillian on the stage as her partner. Dorothy also tries the stage, but does not like it and so she is made the housekeeper for the Harlem home. The life of Billie Young becomes one of simple resignation exemplified best in this little creed written in between the lines of this crowded diary:

Sunday — I gladly forget all slights for I love to express good will and happiness.

Monday — I willingly forget unpleasant gossip because I know that truth is the only reality.

Tuesday — I cheerfully forget to be sorry for myself while I think of my wonderful father who is in heaven.

Wednesday — All hate, revenge and anger are swallowed up in divine love.

Thursday — All worry is dissolved by perfect faith in God.

Friday — There is nothing to fear for God is near.

Saturday — All negative and unpleasant thoughts are washed away by the cleansing of Jesus Christ.

Note: Jelly Roll Morton says in Lomax’s Mister Jelly Roll, “I had a young lady working for me by the name of Billy (Billie) Young. She was an actress friend who was down on her luck and I occasionally was able to give her things to do around in the office. . . .” [MJR 225]

Note: On 3rd April 1930 Miss Billie Young, accompanied by Jelly Roll Morton, recorded two blues numbers for Victor at the Liederkranz Hall. [BY]

OIL WELL
 “Pam” Pameijer’s New Jazz Wizards
pianist Ray Smith

Prof. Alan Wallace and Herbert L. Shultz send the following article from The Daily Princetonian, dated Friday, 6th May 1932, page 1, columns 5—6, page 3, columns 3—4 and page 4, columns 1—4.


The Daily Princetonian

600 GUESTS WILL THRONG CAMPUS
AS ANNUAL HOUSEPARTIES BEGIN


FESTIVITIES OPEN TONIGHT
Dancing at Clubs Will Start at 10 Continuing Until Daylight –
Open-House Period for Visiting Will Last From 2 to 4 Tonight.


FAMOUS ORCHESTRAS PLAY
Enric (Enrique) Madriguera, Joe Moss, Claude Hopkins
and Others Will Furnish Music For Dances.

Six hundred feminine guests will be in Princeton for the opening of the Houseparty weekend at 10 this evening to attend dances held in 16 of the upperclass clubs along Prospect St.

As is customary at Houseparties, visiting among the different clubs will be permitted at a certain time. This year the open-house period will be from 2 to 4 tomorrow morning and admission to the various dances will be gained only on presentation of the ticket
[,] which is issued to every club member attending Houseparties.

The following is a complete list of the orchestras which will play here and the name of the club which has engaged them: Arbor, Bernie Olbys; Campus, Al King; Cannon, Pied Pipers; Cap and Gown, Enricque (Enrique) Madriguera; Charter, Colonial Serenaders; Cloister, London Embassy Orchestra; Colonial, Ivy and Tiger, Joe Moss; Cottage, Ruby Newman; Court, Halsey Miller; Dial, “Jellyroll” Morton; Elm, Phil Solari; Gateway, Jack Geyser; Key and Seal, Vic Irwin; Quadrangle, Nat Harris; Terrace, Frank Winegar; Tower, Claude Hopkins. . . .

Note: The remainder of the article continues with a list of guests who attended the various clubs.

Note: Dr. Henry Shultz (cousin of Herbert L. Shultz) attended the event above at Dial Lodge and recalls that Morton was both friendly and talkative. [M 131]

Karl Ellison sends the following article from The Pittsburgh Courier, dated Saturday, 8th October 1932.


The Pittsburgh Courier

“Newsy Newsletter”

by Floyd G. Snelson, Jr.

Louis Armstrong, the ace trumpeter, returning from Europe this week . . . Billy Fowler at the Harlem Ope . . . Fletcher Henderson at the Savoy Ballroom, N.Y. . . . Luis Russell a hit at the Roseland Ballroom, 50th and Broadway . . . Charlie Johnson back at his old stand . . . Small’s Paradise . . . Jelly Roll Morton at the Lido Ballroom . . . Smiling Billy Steward at the Renaissance. . . .

Note: The Lido Ballroom was situated at 160 W. 146th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenue, New York City.

BLUE BLOOD BLUES
 Jelly-Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers

Laurie Wright sends the following article from the New York Age, dated Saturday, 3rd December 1932, page 7, columns 1—2.


New York Age

ACTIVITIES AMONG
UNION MUSICIANS


By PERCIVAL OUTRAM

“The Original Yellow Ticket” is the headline of a circular naming members of Local 802, who expect to be elected as members of the Governing Board (Six), Trial Board (Nine), delegate to the convention (Two) and delegate to the Central Trade Council (One) Thursday, December 15 is Election Day at union headquarters, 210 East 86th street, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Your union card must be shown before you can vote. The full quota of names for an office must be voted, otherwise the ballot is void. Remember this paragraph if you want your ballot counted. There are three tickets in the field and the rule applies to all of them, so mark your ballot carefully.

“The Original Yellow Ticket” called a meeting at Carey’s Democratic Club, Lenox avenue and 131st street, for Sunday night, November 27. It was Monday, 2.30 a.m. before the meeting was called to order. Louis Weissman was chairman. He is seeking to succeed himself as a member of the Governing Board. The keynote of his opening remarks was local autonomy and having on the ticket Joe Jordan, a race member and a well known musician. Mr. Jordan is known, perhaps, in every state in the Union as a composer, composer and musician and is said to be now associated with Rosamond Johnson’s Broadway office in musical activities. Mr. Weissman urged members to vote for Joe as a Trial Band member and also vote the entire ticket as presented.

During the meeting Chairman Weissman referred to the running of Bill Conway (colored) on another ticket for the same office, as a “political trick” and thought Bill should withdraw and not hamper Joe’s chances in getting the maximum number of the 1500 colored votes, as Joe was first in the field. Referring to his ticket he said that only four men of the 18 men elected last year were on this year’s ticket. The others had “eliminated” themselves. How was not stated.

President Allan of the N.A.P.C. made an excellent speech on the issues of unionism and is a non-member of Local 802.

Mrs. Joe Jordan, called to the platform, was bitter and plain-spoken in her denunciation of colored musicians who so feebly responded to her “riding in every possible conveyance and footing it” to make personal contacts, ensuring as she thought, a large number of Harlem musicians at the meeting. Switching to Joe she said he was a scrapper. She was his wife and ought to know. Joe had never failed in any undertaking he ever tried. She was looking for no failure now.

Addresses were also made by Chappie Gardner of the Pittsburgh Courier, Billy Moore, Jimmy (Peek-a-boo) Davis and Candidate, Joe Jordan. Peek-a-boo made a remarkable statement during his speech. He said that after Bert Hall, now deceased, had failed to get elected, Chairman Canavan at a “secret meeting” discussed getting Bert on the Board and was told by other members that if Bert came in they would not serve with him. Bert was then appointed business agent.

The meeting was adjourned by Chairman Weissman, members starting to leave. It was then 5 a.m. when “Peek-a-boo” said to this writer, “Wait a minute Percy” and went toward the platform. The chairman shouted. “Please take your seats, I have here on this card the name of a gentleman we would like to hear from, Mr. Percy Outram.”

This amazed me, I visualized the Trial Board where Jimmy had recently unsuccessfully tried to have me fined. I was hesitant and think myself from the situation. Reaching rapidly to courteously extricate the speaker’s platform. I thanked the chairman for the honor he had conferred on me and said this was the first meeting I had attended and was not familiar with their aims and ideals and therefore I was incompetent in further speak. I bowed and retired and the meeting was closed. There was a great preponderance of white members to colored — almost 150 persons were present.

Among the colored musicians noted were Sam Patterson, Harry Simmons, Rosamond Johnson, Marion Cumbo, Clarence Cummings, Jelly Roll Morton, Deacon Johnson, Jimmy Davis, Aubrey Walkes and Percy Outram. There may have been half a dozen others whose names were unknown to me.

Another meeting is scheduled for Palm Garden on December 5.

Note: I was tempted just to mention Jelly Roll’s attendance at a Local 802 Union Meeting, which took place on Sunday, 27th and Monday, 28th November 1932. However, because this interesting report by Percival Outram mentions several other notable musicians, including Joe Jordan and Sam Patterson, I have included the complete article.

Prof. Alan Wallace and Dan Vernhettes send the following article from The Chicago Defender, dated Saturday, 11th March 1933, page 8, column 3.


The Chicago Defender

NATION’S ACE
BANDS HONOR
EX-CLUB HEAD

NEW YORK, March 10. — Practically everyone of the 1,800 members among whom are to be found the most famous band organizations in the world, paid honor to the memory of Bert Hall, founder of the Rhythm club on 132d St., whose death took place a year ago, Wednesday. Services were at the club headquarters, and were participated in by the following musical combinations: Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Louis Russels (Russell), Santo Domingas (Sam Domingo), Noble Sissle, Billy Fowler, Pike Davis, Clark’s Napoleons, Bobby Neal, Louisiana Stompers, Kaiser Marshall, Duncan Meyer’s band, Cliff Jackson’s band, Izzy Meyer’s orchestra, Sam Paterson’s (Patterson), Charlie Johnson’s Paradise band, Bill Brown’s Brownies, Lucky Milinder (Millinder), Ralph Cooper and band, Lucky (Luckey) Roberts, Sammy Stewarts (Stewart), Mills’ Blue Rhythm, Elmer Snowden’s band, Ford Dabney’s orchestra, Eubie Blake’s orchestra, Opal Cooper’s entertainers, Bill Payne, Jimmy Davis’ band, Willie Lynch’s band, “Jelly Roll” Morton’s band, and several other well-known outfits. Bill Robinson is an honorary member of the club. Florney (Flourney) Miller, Buck and Bubbles, Louis Russell’s Connie’s Inn orchestra and many stage and screen celebrities are also members of this well-known organization.

Prof. Alan Wallace sends the following pictorial advert from the Times Union (Albany, New York), dated Saturday, 7th October 1933, page 4, column 1.


Times Union (Albany, New York)

Dance Tonite!
UNIVERSITY
GRILL

JELLY ROLL MARTIN
And His
Victor Recording Artists
85 SO. PEARL ST.
NO COUVERT

Note: Herbert L. Shultz recalls that Morton played at the University Grill in Albany, New York for one week commencing Saturday, 7th October 1933. Herbert saw Jelly Roll on Friday, 13th October. He also has a letter from Jimmy Daley, an Albany booking agent, who arranged the engagement. Morton received $50.00 for the week, plus the train fare for the round trip from New York. The musicians who accompanied Jelly were all local Albany musicians, who were paid at the local scale rate. [M 131]

 Mark Miller sends the following pictorial advert announcing a forthcoming previously unknown engagement featuring “Jelly Roll” Morton and his Red Hot Peppers at Madison Lake, NY, from the Utica Daily Press, dated Friday, 21st June 1935, page 9, column 2.



Utica Daily Press

Madison Lake

Sat. Eve., June 22

Sunny Rhode Islanders
10-Piece Band and Entertainer


COMING

“Jelly Roll” Morton
and his Red Hot Peppers

Free Picnic Grounds

 Mark Miller sends the following pictorial advert for a previously unknown engagement featuring “Jelly Roll” Morton and His World Famous Victor Recording Orchestra at Madison Lake, NY from The Brookfield Courier, dated Wednesday, 26th June 1935, page 4, columns 6—7.



The Brookfield Courier, Brookfield, N.Y.

EXTRAORDINARY ANNOUNCEMENT
Madison Lake
Special Holiday
ATTRACTION

June 29 – July 3–4
Make no other plans — your Holiday Treat is here!
Positively in Person

“Jelly Roll” Morton
And His World Famous
Victor Recording Orchestra
15 — Recording Stars — A treat of scintillating allure
SINGERS — FEATURES — NOVELTIES
SPECIAL MUSICAL SURPRISES

— DANCE —
To the VICTOR ALL STARS
Note — Absolutely the finest orchestra to appear in this
section in years!   Don’t Miss It!

GRAND DISPLAY FIREWORKS JULY 4
Admission $1.10 per couple, including tax

 Mark Miller sends the following pictorial advert for a previously unknown engagement featuring “Jelly Roll” Morton and His World Famous Victor Recording Orchestra at Madison Lake, NY from The Waterville Times, dated Thursday, 27th June 1935, page 5, columns 3—4.



The Waterville Times, Waterville, N.Y.

“Extraordinary Announcement”
MADISON LAKE
Special Holiday June 29 — July 3–4 Attraction
Make no other plans – Your Holiday Treat is here
Positively in Person
“JELLY ROLL” MORTON
And His World Famous Victor Recording Orchestra
15 — Recording Stars — 15        A treat of allure
Singers, Features, Novelties — Special Musical Surprises
DANCE TO THE VICTOR ALL STARS

Note: Absolutely the finest orchestra to appear
in this section — in years — don’t miss it.

GRAND DISPLAY FIREWORKS — JULY 4
Admission — $1.10 per couple — Including Tax

Prof. Alan Wallace and Brian Goggin send the following obituary notice for Andrew H. Hilaire from The Chicago Defender, dated Saturday, 24th August 1935, page 3, column 7.


The Chicago Defender

A. H. Hilaire,
Orchestra
Leader, Dies

Andrew H. Hilaire, one of Chicago’s best known orchestra leaders and teacher of drums, died at his home, 4008 Calumet avenue, on Saturday, August 3, 1935.

He was born in New Orleans, La., but came to Chicago with his parents and brothers and sister when a small boy. His education, both formal and musical was completed in Chicago. When quite a young man he became a member of the famous Charles Cook orchestra, being identified with Mr. Cook for eight years. He also traveled extensively at one time, being with the late Florence Mills.

The particular technique he developed, and which has not been fully reproduced, soon led him into the field of teaching drums and vibraphone. He has been the inspiration of many younger musicians in his particular field of music and is sincerely mourned by many of his contemporaries.

Mr. Hilaire is survived by one brother, Joseph, and a sister, Estelle B. Lucas, and a host of loving friends. Interment in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Note: Andrew Hilaire is best remembered for his part in the historic September and December 1926 “Victor” recording sessions with Jelly-Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers at The Webster Hotel, 2150 Lincoln Park West, Chicago. [RHP]

Note: See also Hal Smith’s essay of Andrew Henry Hilaire accompanied by his WWI Draft Registration Card.

Prof. Lawrence Gushee sends the following article from The Philadelphia Afro-American, dated Saturday, 11th April 1936, page 11, columns 1—4.


The Philadelphia Afro-American

THE MAN WHO REALLY INVENTED JAZZ
IS NOT PERMITTED TO PLAY IT


JELLY ROLL MORTON BARRED BY UNION

Harlem Pianist
Says He Created
New Vogue in
New Orleans


By WILLIAM YOUNG

NEW YORK — It is ironical, but true that the man who really invented jazz is now not permitted to play it.

Jellyroll Morton, who because of his strange piano style, created this modern rhythm, because of his disagreement with the musicians’ union is kept out of organized music circles and is prevented from forming an orchestra.

Morton, who now makes his home in Harlem, claims that he was playing jazz long before James Reese Europe and his famous band made that type of music an international novelty during the war.

New Orleans is the home of jazz, according to Morton.

While Jim Europe was busying himself with the musicians’ headquarters in making plans to organize a band for the 15th Regiment of the N.Y.N.G a band stole into New York from New Orleans called the Creole Band and played at the Palace Theatre for two weeks and broke all records for attendance.

Sans
[sic] piano and drums, they even improved on Jim Europe’s ragtime. The owner of the band was William Johnson, brother-in-law of Jellyroll Morton.

Europe went abroad with the 15th Regiment band where he introduced jazz in Europe, with the same results.

Jelly Roll Morton

JELLY ROLL MORTON,
the originator of jazz music,  who,  because of difficulty
with the Musicians’ Union, is under suspension and not
allowed to play.

Crossed with Spanish

Meanwhile Jellyroll Morton set about in earnest to develop this type of music which he called jazz and discovered that it had a much better effect if played in a slower tempo.

He gave the following definition of jazz music: Jazz music is a cross between American ragtime with an inaccurate tempo and Spanish music with an accurate tempo.

Great Jazzists

With that, Mr. Morton assumes full responsibility as the creator of jazz music: Jazz music is a [sic] still in its infancy.

He also states that few musicians really understand jazz. However, among these few were Freddie Keppar (Keppard), the first great jazz trumpet player followed by King Oliver, Buddy Petit, Milt (Mutt) Carey, Louis Armstrong and Red Allen, all great trumpet players in bygone days with the exception of Louis Armstrong who tops the present crop, and Red Allen.

He adds to this list the names of George Bache (Baquet), Sidney Bachet (Bechet), Big Eye Louie (Louis Nelson), Clem Raymond, Wade Waley (Whaley) and that great bass violin player, Billy Merriere (Marrero).

Not Truly Developed

To further his claim that jazz is not yet perfected, Mr. Morton states that in all instruments there may be obtained, notes so odd and freakish that very few musicians are capable of producing them. Those who have, had no way of recording them because there were no such notes in the musical scale.

For example, suppose one tried to write the notes corresponding to the human laugh, the imitation of a chicken, cow, duck, whistle or even a siren. Yet they can be made on a trombone, clarinet, trumpet or violin. Why is it, that Louis Armstrong can blow a higher note than any other trumpet player?

Morton was born in New Orleans in 1885. He studied music at an early age and mastered the guitar. He switched to the piano, and he later formed a band of his own.

From this point on, there came into being a number of bands, almost simultaneously. They were Will Vodery, Fletcher Henderson, Leroy Smith, Sam Wooding, Tim Brymn, C. Luckeyth Roberts, Gus Creagle, Charles Parker, Happy Rhone, John Ricks, Sam Patterson, Billie Butler, Jr., Charlie Johnson, Gilbert Anderson and John C. Smith.

New Leaders Rise

From this number came Fletcher Henderson, a college graduate, whose knowledge of music plus him (his) arrangements rapidly placed him at the top. His was the first band to broadcast over the radio and hold down jobs in some of the leading hotels and country clubs.

The present crop of bands include, Duke Ellington, who not only has one of the great bands, but has gained international fame as a composer with “Mood Indigo,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Three Little Words,” and many others.

Calloway’s Rise

Cag (Cab) Calloway, king of the hi-de ro (Hi-De-Ho) shot up like a rocket after he entered the Cotton Club. Cab’s interpretation of “Minnie the Moocher,[] and his unique style of singing, plus a good band, is responsible for his popularity. He efatured (featured) such songs as “Kickin[] the Gong Around,” “The Lady with the Fan,” “The Jitter Bug,” “Willie the Weeper,” “Chinese Rhythm,” and “Smokey Joe.”

Claude Hopkins, another college graduate is a crowd pleaser, although compogins (composing) very few songs. His novel arrangements and orchestrations had such a swing that it was quick to take the public’s eye. The rendition of his theme song “I Could Do Most Anything for You,” is a good example of of the Hopkins Rhythm.

oDn Redmon (Don Redman), the shortest bandleader of them all, achieved fame by his trick arrangements and original compositions like:

“How’m I oDin’” (“How’mI Doin’?”), “I Heard,” and the “Chant of the Weeds.”

Louis Armstrong, the greatest of all the trumpet players, immediately places the rest of his band into obscurity. His ability to attain the weird high, and low notes and at the same time maintaining perfect time and rhythm plus his husky singing voice with his unique style of presentation has enabled him to outdistance his rivals by a wide margin.

Lunceford’s Band

Jimmie Lunceford’s band, a comparatively new group in New York, represents the modery (modern) type of musician. Lunceford himself, a young man, has plenty of showmanship, color and versatility.

Sissle’s Group

One of the most important orchestras is that of Noble Sissle. Sissle was one of Jim Europe’s original musicians. After Europe’s edath (death), he entered the vaudeville profession with a fellow musician, Eubie Blake. The team broke up and Sissle went to Europe with his own act. He remained in Europe for seven years and returned to the United States in 1927 where he was engaged at the Park Sentral (Central) Hotel.

Other Bands

Chick Webb an orchestra leader has approved his worth by his ability to please the younger set. His is strictly a red hot jazz band in every sense of the word.

Other modern dance bands popular in Harlem and throughout the country are: Willie Bryant, Teddy Hill, Bama State Collegians, Vernon Andrades, Louis (Luis) Russell, Lucky Milinder (Millinder), Fess Williams and Fats Waller.

Note: About a half century has elapsed since I first read Alan Lomax’s Mister Jelly Roll and listened to Rudi Blesh’s edition of the Library of Congress recordings. At first, it seemed that the meeting of Lomax and Morton was a perfect example of serendipity: Jelly Roll just happened to be in Washington when Lomax was employed at the Library. The reminiscences of a folk artist were preserved for posterity by a young researcher well-versed in ethno-musicological field work as it was then practiced.

But the more we learn about the circumstances of these recordings, the more it seems that they were just another episode — and not the earliest — in Jelly Roll’s desire to tell his own story in his own manner. I offer some evidence for this in my “Afterword” to the fourth edition of Mister Jelly Roll (University of California Press, 2001) now included in the new Rounder boxed set of the Library of Congress recordings.

In the afterword I drew attention to an article by William Young in an unidentified and undated newspaper clipping saved in Jelly Roll’s scrapbook unearthed by Phil Pastras and now housed in the Historic New Orleans Collection. In the course of a brief visit to the Collection in August 2005, I asked the ever-helpful Mark Cave to lift the clipping, which was about ready to fall off the page, so that the reverse could be read. While this didn’t show the paper’s name or date, it provided clues that made it highly likely that it was from an African-American publication from Philadelphia. While perusal of the Philadelphia Tribune met with no luck, a reading of the short-lived and more rambunctious Afro-American identified the date (April 11, 1936) and the page (11). In fact the date at the top of page 11 is (incorrectly) printed as April 4, 1936.

The reporter, William Young, is otherwise unknown to me, but knowing more about him might help in deciding just where Morton stops and Young starts. It’s conceivable that the entire article is based on what Morton told the reporter, including the fascinating remarks about contemporary big-band leaders, but there seems little doubt that Morton is responsible for the first column and a third of the second. The actual date of the interview isn’t given but presumably after Jelly Roll received notice in early December 1935, of his expulsion from Local 802 for non-payment of dues — also included in the scrapbook. [LG 8]

Return to Main Morton PageBack to TopForward to Next Page

Home Page

Jelly Roll Morton J. Lawrence Cook Frank Melrose
Roy J. Carew Anita Gonzales and Bob Kirstein Radio Broadcast Max Kortlander An Essay in Genealogy
International Researchers Jelly Roll Morton and Alan Lomax Library of Congress Narrative MIDI Files Recommended Listening
WWI Draft Registration Cards and Essays Jelly Roll Morton Iconography Library Photograph Gallery Document Archives
Recently Updated Articles Jelly Roll Morton Recordings and Discography Jelly Roll Morton Posthumous Articles Directory of Related Links


1999—2014 Monrovia Sound Studio