Jelly Roll Morton

Jazz Musician

Born: 20 October 1890
Died: 10 July 1941 (heart failure)
Birthplace: Gulfport, Louisiana
Best known as: The composer of Jelly Roll Blues

Name at birth: Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe

Piano player Jelly Roll Morton was a pioneer of modern American jazz. He grew up in New Orleans and began playing in saloons and brothels when he was still a boy. In later years he performed solo and with his band, the Red Hot Peppers, and he is particularly remembered for a series of recordings he made in Chicago for RCA Victor in the 1920s. Morton is often credited with mixing individual improvisation within rehearsed group arrangements, a format which became a staple of jazz. His best-known tunes included Jelly Roll Blues, King Porter Stomp, and Black Bottom Stomp.

Extra credit:

Morton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as an “early influence”… Various sources list Morton’s birth name as La Mothe, Lematt or Lemott; some list his birth year as 1885… Jelly’s Last Jam, a musical based on Morton’s life, debuted on Broadway in 1991.

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