The Day by Day History of the
Jelly Roll Morton Died
July 10, 1941
Are you a jazz fan? You
might be if you heard a recording by Jelly Roll Morton. He died
on July 10, 1941, but his music still makes you want to get up
and dance. If you've listened to ragtime or watched old
black-and-white cartoons, you have an idea of the kind of music
Jelly Roll Morton wrote and played.
In the 1920s, Jelly
Roll Morton rose to fame with his band, the Red Hot Peppers.
Morton was a great pianist and generally acknowledged as one of
the first orchestral jazz composers. He even claimed to
have invented jazz. That boast brought him a lot of enemies in
the music world. Whether or not you agree with his claim, Morton
made some serious changes to the way jazz was played. Can you
think what those changes might be?
Jazz wouldn't be jazz
without musicians creating variations of the music along the
way. What Jelly Roll Morton added to those free-flowing
improvisations were careful rehearsal and arrangement.
Born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe, in 1890 in New Orleans,
Louisiana, he billed himself as "Jelly Roll" Morton when he
played in vaudeville (variety) shows. In 1917, he moved to
California and played in nightclubs.
Jelly Roll Morton is
best remembered for such pieces as "Black Bottom Stomp," "Shoe
Shiner's Drag," and "Dead Man Blues." Maybe someone you know has
some jazz recordings from the 1920s. If so, you can turn the
music on and get up and dance.