The last commercial recordings by the New Orleans legend, 25 tracks including rare solo and vocal sides as well as Hot Band recordings with Red Allen and Zutty Singleton.
When Jelly Roll Morton recorded this music in 1939 and 1940, the "Jazz Age" that he represented was rapidly becoming a subject of historical curiosity. Morton had already recorded extensively for the Library of Congress, reminiscences as well as music, but there's nothing stale about these solo piano and band tracks, with Morton showing another dimension of himself as a laconic singer of traditional blues. The solo piano sessions find him reaching back to the New Orleans of his youth, playing ragtime and bordello specialties as well as a superbly relaxed version of his "King Porter Stomp." The songs are fascinating, including "Winin' Boy Blues," "Mamie's Blues" (which Morton introduces as "the first blues I no doubt heard in my life"), and "Buddy Bolden's Blues," the last with a cast of characters that includes the legendary trumpeter. There are also 12 band tracks, with Red Allen, Albert Nicholas, and Zutty Singleton among those joining the pianist. At their best these songs are fine expressions of Morton's music, with "Sweet Substitute" and "My Home Is in a Southern Town" showing the composer as a still-vital musical force. --Stuart Broomer