"Jelly Roll" Morton

Jelly Roll Morton was born by the name of Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe on September 20th 1885 in Gulfport, Louisiana. Morton was taught the guitar and piano as a child and became a professional pianist in the bordellos of New Orleans in 1902.

Since 1904 he toured the United States and played his unique mixture of Blues, Ragtime and Creole Jazz. Morton played in New Orleans until 1917, then led his famous "Red Hot Peppers" band from 1926-30 in Chicago and New York. In 1923 he had his recording debut, and from 1926 to 1930 he made a fabulous series of recordings with his "Red Hot Peppers" band, which still are the foundation of his fame. Later in his life he also worked as Blues singer. He died on July 10th 1941 in Los Angeles.

Like Armstrong he was a musician who tried to unite Jazz with contemporary music. Jelly Roll was one of the most famous pianists and composers of the early Jazz period and he included important Afro-American folklore elements into Jazz music. His compositions and interpretations had a huge influence on the development of the piano playing style. Morton can be seen as a primitive pioneer because he induced jazz musicians to use prearranged, semi-orchestrated effects. Some of his most important compositions are classics like the "Jelly Roll Blues", the "King Porter Stomp" or the "Mournful Serenade". Jelly Roll always claimed to have invented Jazz music.