Cornetist / trumpeter / scholar Bent Persson loves Jelly Roll Morton. Here, he assembled a cohesive little band for a set at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party (on November 7, 2014) that took as its text Morton’s last recordings, from 1940 and 1941. Bent’s colleagues are Nick Ball, drums; Henri Lemaire, string bass; Jacob Ullberger, guitar; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Thomas Winteler, Jean-Francois Bonnel, reeds; Graham Hughes.
In the full-band titles, most of which featured Henry “Red” Allen, one of Bent’s (and my) heroes, one hears an approach different from the Victor Red Hot Peppers — sometimes as if Morton was adapting conventions of Swing Era arranging for his own purposes, with great effectiveness.
Here are five selections, each rewarding and full of small surprises.
MY HOME IS IN A SOUTHERN TOWN, which rollicks along:
WININ’ BOY BLUES, without a vocal but with double-time passages:
KING PORTER STOMP in its original form as a piano solo, which — after decades of hearing it scored for brass and reeds — sounds novel, almost startling. Talk about “orchestral piano”!
FROG-I-MORE RAG, as imagined for the trio of Thomas, Morten, and a very happy Nick:
SWEET SUBSTITUTE, for full band, echoing the powerful General recording:
I’ll be at the 2015 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party. These videos, and others I’ve posted, should answer the question “Why?” neatly. At least they do for me.
May your happiness increase!