This new endeavor — performing and recording all of Jelly Roll Morton’s compositions at the rate of two a week, scored and sometimes reimagined for clarinet or other reeds (David Horniblow) and piano (Andrew Oliver) is generous, expert, and ultimately joyous. I’ve fallen slightly behind, so this post offers weeks two and three. Here is the first part, garlanded with deep praise from Moi.
A few words. In this technological age, artists are under pressure to give their work away for free — I’m part of this skewed exchange — and the results are sometimes uneven. But the Complete Morton Project, although it has no dusty air about it, no scent of the museum, is beautifully considered and executed, and the results are not only graciously offered but superbly inventive. I find that when I listen to a Morton orchestral recording, I hear the band, which is not a bad thing: here, the clarity of presentation makes me hear David and Andrew, of course, but the music is almost visible as it purls by.
GOOD OLD NEW YORK, with David on bass clarinet:
The deeply mournful WHY?:
The mysteriously titled FICKLE FAY CREEP:
and Morton’s evocation of Bert Williams, which makes me think of his poker-playing routine:
Here’s the link to the CMP on andrewoliver.net — elegant commentary also, not didactic — and on their YouTube channel. To get a regular weekly delivery of this expert pleasure right to your door, you don’t have to have money deducted from your paycheck or sign an agreement. Simply watch, feel delight, and tell your like-minded friends: that, I think, will be all the reward Andrew and David yearn for. Thank you, Benefactors!
May your happiness increase!