A Century Of Notated Jazz: “Original Jelly Roll Blues” Turns 100
This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the earliest publication of a jazz composition, Jelly Roll Morton’s “Original Jelly Roll Blues.”
This B-flat major foxtrot was originally published as sheet music for solo piano by Will Rossiter, a publisher out of Chicago.
Morton recorded it as a solo piano piece in 1924, and then with his Red Hot Peppers band in 1926.
It remains one of the Frenchmen Street resident’s most recognizable tunes.
Although jazz certainly didn’t have one clear start date, 1915 was an important landmark.
Morton’s publication proved that songs of a genre based in improvisation could indeed be set to paper without crippling their freedom of form.
With the advent of publication, musicians continued to improvise during performances but could also more easily share and learn the foundations of common pieces that would become our canon today.