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Jelly Roll Rolls, Toussaint Returns

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By Howard Mandel

If you listen to interviews with Jelly Roll Morton, what you hear is your disreputable favorite uncle, fondly recalling his days as a roué: "Kaiser's, the Red Onion, Spanos: These were honky-tonks…dirty, filthy places…gambling wide open…a lot of rough people…really dangerous to anybody that would go in and didn't know what it was all about."

"They always had a broken-down piano.… After four o'clock in the morning, all the girls that could get out of the houses, they were there. And the girls would start, 'Play me something, boy, play me some blues.' I'd start playing this way."

Listening to him on records, Jelly Roll then institutes a bluesy melody with a pretty flourish over insinuating syncopation and a steady footbeat. His voice rises in its winsome, salty plea:

"Let me be your wiggler, until your wobbler comes.

Let me be your wiggler, until your wobbler comes.

Then tell your wobbler what your wiggler done."

Morton's Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax, has been available before, but not in such unexpurgated, celebratory form as the piano-shaped boxed set now issued by Rounder Records. ... [MORE]


                     

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