Complete, Vol. 3-4

Jelly Roll Morton

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Complete, Vol. 3-4 Review

by Scott Yanow

All of Jelly Roll Morton's Victor recordings have been reissued on a five-CD set but, prior to that, the best way to acquire his priceless performances was on this French RCA series of four two-LP sets. The third and fourth volumes complete Morton's period in Chicago with two classics ("Wild Man Blues" and "Georgia Swing") and then features the pianist in New York for a series of exciting but sometimes erratic performances from 1928-29. Best are "Shoe Shiner's Drag," "Shreveport Stomp" (with clarinetist Omer Simeon in a trio), the almost out-of-control "Burnin' the Iceberg" and four Morton piano solos. There are times when the ensembles on some of the other numbers get overcrowded (Morton had difficulty getting all of the musicians he wanted by 1929) but even the weaker sides are of interest. The better soloists (in addition to the pianist/leader) include trumpeters Ward Pinkett and Red Allen, trombonist Geechie Fields and J.C. Higginbottham and clarinetists Omer Simeon and Albert Nicholas.