Jelly Roll Morton

Piano Rolls [Elektra]

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Piano rolls generally sound rather wooden, with square rhythms and a honky tonk feel; the displays of virtuosity are sometimes are impossible for one pianist to perform due to excessive hole punching. Jelly Roll Morton's 11 piano rolls of 1924 (which had previously been put out on LP by Biograph and Everest) often had more life than others of the period, but still sounded a bit mechanical. Using modern techniques during 1996-1997 (including the Yamaha Disklavier), producer Artis Wodehouse was able to make Morton's piano rolls sound much more alive than they had previously for this CD. The interpretations almost pass for '20s piano recordings, and Morton's feel comes across better than in previous versions of the rolls. Of the 11 selections, it is possible that "Sweet Man" was not performed by Morton (although his name was on the original), for the style sounds a bit different. But the other numbers (highlighted by "Shreveport Stomps," "Grandpa's Spells," "King Porter Stomp" and "Mr. Jelly Lord") definitely bring back the spirit of Jelly Roll Morton.

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