Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with 1920s Jazz

Hello again.   Yes, you’ve read the title correctly: JAZZ.  Now I know very little about jazz.  You could say  - I wouldn’t – that I don’t know my jazz from my azz!

What I do know I learned from an old friend – more than 30 years ago now – who was into Jelly Roll Morton in a massive way.  He collected Jelly Roll: there were only a couple of recordings he didn’t have.  Whenever I went round out would come JRM.  I can’t remember the tracks but I did learn that some of it was really good.

Having decided to feature 1920s jazz I’ve had a great time looking, listening, listening again and again and eventually whittling the numbers down to 20 videos!  As I start writing this I’ve still to cut the numbers in half. 

First up today is

Potato Head Jazz                                       Louis Armstrong

One of the comments left on YouTube about this piece says,

“Notice how the impunity of the first quadrant starts in B sharp somewhat indicating a positive view a life, yet as the recitify continues it falls promiscuously into despair yet uplifted by its gauges into a high angle solo assuming that the artist was influenced to some degree from Neo-Realism, and ends this great song challenging the sequity of logistics and paralyzed synchronized randomness. Long live Louis!”

Me, I just love it as it bounces along!


Straight into our second artist and we have another great.  Well they’re all greats here.

Remember, make sure you have your coffee.  I’m drinking mine as I write this.

Good Little, Bad Little You    Earl Hines & His Orchestra

A nice video and a fabulous sound.


I couldn’t keep Jelly Roll out of the frame any longer.

King Porter Stomp                                      Jelly Roll Morton

A “Stomp” is described by Wikipedia as “In music and jazz harmony, the Stomp progression is an eight bar chord progression named for its use in the first strain of the composition "King Porter Stomp" (1923) by Jelly Roll Morton”.

All I know is that it has a feel of ragtime to it and that I absolutely love this.

If you are alive you will have loved this too!

The man is still a magician even if he has been dead for almost 70 years.


I’ve realised I can’t cut the videos to the normal eight: it’s far too difficult and so I aimed for ten.  That ran for 30 mins and so I’ve pushed the boat out and put in 12 tunes with a running time of 36 minutes.  I hope that’s OK with you.


We need to move quickly on now to a great I’d heard of but I didn’t know he was a pianist nor did I know this was his era!!!!

 Numb Fumbling                                                  Fats Waller

He died in 1943 aged only 39 but he’ll be remembered for a long time yet.


Apart from Jelly Roll Morton and my friend I have only 2 other memories of jazz crossing my path.  One was in 1977, I think.  If you’re a regular here you’ll have noticed, as I have just done, that I write often about “things” happening 30 years ago.  It’s as though my life stopped then. 

I was in London on business and I met two others from the whisky industry who were there for the same meeting.  The night before we enjoyed ourselves!  Rather the worse for wear we went to Ronnie Scott’s:  I have no idea who was playing.  My one memory was of going for the drinks and the whisky was so expensive and the measures were 1/6th of a gill rather than the more normal 1/5th.  My irrefutable logic was, “If the measures are small and the price is high I better buy doubles!”  Doubles it was for the rest of the night.

Enough! More music.


Cushion Foot Stomp  

Clarence Williams  & His  Washboard Five  

I love the way this flows and the sousaphone is great too!


This next tune was “recorded” on a piano roll for which, I believe, the pianist played a special piano which transformed the notes played and sometimes the dynamics into holes on paper.  From the comments left on YouTube this roll doesn’t include dynamics and so may sound a bit ”flat”.

Carolina Shout                                  James P Johnston

This sounds a bit like Russ Conway but I guess it’s the other way round and that may be because Russ Conway played with the subtlety of a poor piano roll.


That’s us halfway through the show: six more pieces to come but before that we have my last little jazz story.  The next artist I hadn’t heard of until the mid-1980’s when Alan Plater wrote “The Beiderbecke Trilogy” for ITV in which the background music was played in the style of Bix Beiderbecke.

Singin’ the Blues                

Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke and Jimmy Dorsey

According to notes on this video,

“The first minute of the song is a sax solo by

Trumbauer. The second minute is Bix's cornet solo. The third minute features a short clarinet solo by Jimmy Dorsey, who was the clarinetist in Trumbauer's Orchestra at that time.”

The notes on YouTube also said,

“This song is considered a jazz classic because Bix and, to a lesser degree, Tram [Trumbauer] were able to make a slow-tempo jazz ballad swing.”

I’m so glad I remembered Bix.


We continue now with another from Bix.

Royal Garden Blues

Bix Beiderbecke and His New Orleans Lucky Seven

This is so good I can listen all over again.   I just did!  You can too.


Sobbin’ Blues                     King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band

Louis Armstrong is on second coronet from this 1923 recording.

The ensemble sound  -well, that’s what I’m calling it – is brilliant.  These artists were … real artists!


More Satchmo now as we get towards the end.

Hotter Than That        Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five

I just love this.


Only two tracks left and I’ve returned to Jelly Roll Morton and one of the tracks I now remember hearing all these years ago.

Wolverine Blues                                  Jelly Roll Morton Trio




Now the end is here with Jelly Roll again.  Last Wednesday in one of the “Watch the Fingers Move” slots I showed Dick Hyman playing this Morton composition.  You can listen to that version here or you can continue on and hear the master.

Finger Breaker                                              Jelly Roll Morton

There is only one Jelly Roll Morton!


Well, that’s it for another week. I’ve had enormous fun putting the show together. Magical!!  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. Battery almost out so I'll have to comeback this evening, Calum.

  2. I read that at your place but it is laptop battery or yours?

    You're welcome any time.

  3. Ah yes. The golden age of popular music.
    You will not be surprised to learn that I have heard of all of these jazzmen.
    When I first started work, older colleagues led me astray into the local jazz club. A strange new world of sweet smelling tobacco, men with funny shaped beards and friendly, oh so friendly ladies. This was at the beginnings of Beatlemania so I had these two different musical genres chasing after my affections; they both won. But they are not so different if you remember that Macca's Lady Madonna is a variation of Humph's Bad Penny Blues.

    You enjoyed this week's search for music didn't you? Well I enjoyed listening to it, took me back to my wide eyed youthful days when everything was new and wonderful.
    Thank you.
    I shall now scratch around among the dead spiders and other detrirus in my record cabinet and dig out my copy of "Duke Ellington At The Cotton Club" and forget the modern world.

    somebody once told me what JellyRoll means. I couldn't possibly tell you but remember that Jazz Me Blues originally meant something equally unprintable.

  4. I don't know much about jazz music at all. I grew up in the 70's though some may debate the growing up part. Closest I have come to any kind of jazz is my son now learning to play the clarinet and he loves it.

  5. Very nice for a Sunday morning :-)

  6. JD I LOVED putting this together!!!

    Nunyaa Never too late.

    CP Very nice ANY time!

  7. Calum
    here's that Bad Penny Blues I mentioned - I think the pianist is Axel Zwingenberger but I'm not sure-

  8. JD I just googled the two phrases you mentioned earlier. Um!

  9. The music, especially King Oliver, was excellent and so were the comments above.