Jelly Roll Morton
A Great Early Jazz Composer
Jelly Roll Morton's claim that he was the "inventor of jazz" is an overstatement, but he was certainly a major influence upon its early development. "Black Bottom Stomp" is a fine example of Morton's style. Like many of his compositions, it is complex, with multiple sections, abrupt breaks or stop-time passages, frequent shifts in instrumentation, and a break-neck tempo. The ragtime influence is noticeable, but the complex melodic development points toward later stages in the evolution of jazz.

Morton liked to demonstrate his jazz performance style by performing the same piece twice, in two different ways: first, in ragtime style, using eighth and sixteenth notes of equal duration, and second, in jazz style, "swinging" the eighth and sixteenth notes. In his memory, I've created two MIDI "piano roll" files that demonstrate the difference.  (You won't notice a difference until the introductory measures are finished playing, since they contain no eighth or sixteenth notes.) The third file is a MIDI big band arrangement.


"Black Bottom Stomp" in ragtime style


"Black Bottom Stomp" in jazz style

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"Black Bottom Stomp" arranged for big band
by Martin Maner, 1999.
Last updated 27 Sept. 1999.