Jelly Roll Morton - Style, Background and 2 piece analysis

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  • Jelly Roll Morton
    • Background
      • Creole Pianist
      • 1890-1941
      • first major jazz composer, who blended blues and ragtime styles
      • Left NO in 1908, played in Cali 1917-1923, then Chicago and moved to New York in '28
      • Red Hot Chilli Pepper band - orchestrated Ragtime, although rich in decoration - tonal variety, creative dynamics
    • Style
      • Formed from early secondary ragtime and 'shout'
        • Close to barrelhouse which produced boogie woogie
      • Played melody in right thumb, with harmonies above - rustic/out of tune sound - dim5th
        • Walked in major and minor 6ths with basic swing rhythms
    • Jelly Roll Blues (1915)
      • 12 bar blues with written variations
      • Places blues into Rag-like structure
      • Blues intro, with trumpet fanfare
        • Piano introduction with banjo playing chords
      • Section A begins with 4 bar phrase
      • descending phrase trumpet to trombone
      • Clarinet plays trills high again like sidewalk
        • 3 times trill is played, last time on a very low register of clarinet
        • clarinet solo begins on low register with just rhythm section for 6 bars then other band members join, this happens twice clarinet slowly ascends in pitch.
      • clarinet solo begins on low register with just rhythm section for 6 bars then other band members join, this happens twice clarinet slowly ascends in pitch.
      • Piano solo has all band backing stabs, until 6 bars in , all band play polyphonic again
    • Sidewalk Blues (1926)
      • Captures many of the features of Morton's pioneering jazz style.
      • Instrumentation - Dixieland
        • Frontline: trumpet trombone and clarinet
        • rhythm: piano, banjo and tuba (or string bass)
      • Brisk tempo, 4/4, swing/shuffle - short (succinct) intro - 3 melodic intruments play unaccomp 2 bar phrase
        • order of trombone, trumpet and clarinet - final bar - idiomatic high trill on clari (dominant
      • Repeatition of the opening 2 bar phrase (varied final note) use of first 4 notes transposed up a 4th for next phrase (change to IV)
      • staccato chords in band are DISPLACED on 2nd and 4th beats
      • Change to standard blues progression
        • bass moves down stepwise, half way through bar 7 - lead to Cmaj
          • Secondary dominant to Chord II at the start of the final phrase
      • some improvisory development - polyphonic
        • second half of piece moves to subdominant key and is more lyric in nature with longer sustained notes in the melodic in lines
          • bends into notes,use of polyphnoic lines and call and response between rhythm section and frontline

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