"Jelly Roll" Morton (1890 - 1941)
Born into a Creole household as Ferdinand Joseph Lamont, pianist, band leader, and songwriter Jelly Roll Morton was the first great composer in the history of jazz known for pieces such as “The Pearls”, “King Porter Stomp”, and “The Jelly Roll Blues”. Morton led a life of musical discovery, traveling to Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles before beginning his recording career in the Windy City in 1923. The recordings he made there with his Red hot Peppers from 1926 to 1928 are some of the best examples of collectively improvised New Orleans Jazz and remain unsurpassed in their brilliance & variety. Jelly Roll Morton participated in the first important interracial recording session, composing and play “Milenberg Joys” with members of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings for the Gennett label in Richmond, Indiana in July 1923. In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton was interviewed by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress, documenting his life story and his role in the development of jazz.