Song of the Day: Jelly Roll Morton, “Black Bottom Stomp”

Jelly Roll Morton recorded “Black Bottom Stomp” for Victor on this date in 1926. He recorded it with his Red Hot Peppers, an ensemble featuring among others the great trombonist Kid Ory. The song is recognized as a quintessential New Orleans style jazz composition, as it features many of its characteristic traits. These include a ragtime structure complete with a stop-time break pattern and a melody woven together with a counter melody. Christopher Washburne also noted its Latin tinge, present within much of Morton’s recorded output, while its title points out the early link between jazz music and dance.

Morton was one of the great ragtime pianists and certainly one of the great early innovators of jazz literature. However, he would later invite scorn with his claims to have invented jazz in 1902. In his later life, Morton claimed: “I have been robbed of three million dollars all told. Everyone today is playing my stuff and I don’t even get credit. Kansas City style, Chicago style, New Orleans style hell… they’re all Jelly Roll style!”

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