Tag Archives: Complete Morton Project

IT MUST BE JELLY: ANDREW OLIVER and DAVID HORNIBLOW PLAY MORTON

The COMPLETE MORTON PROJECT keeps on rolling along, which is lovely.  We know there isn’t an infinite supply of Morton compositions — which makes me a little nervous, thinking of the end — but their steady progress, song by song, is more than uplifting.

And since I am always a little behind the best runners, here are four more.  IF YOU KNEW comes from the late sessions for the General label (“Tavern Tunes” — for the jukebox market in places where people drank alcohol?) but my thought is that if you knew how good this music was, and you surely do, you would spread the word:

and the beautifully tender love song, SWEET SUBSTITUTE, here with equal time given to the yearning verse.

I think I first heard Henry “Red” Allen’s 1965 version — he had been on the original session — and then other heroes, Rebecca Kilgore and Marty Grosz, did it also.  But this version is just as heartfelt:

and this week’s basket of Jelly!

Beginning with a wild romp that is either near to or right on top of FAREWELL BLUES, Jelly’s BURNIN’ THE ICEBERG, a title that makes me uncomfortable in the face of global warming / climate change / welcome, O Doom / whatever you’d like to call it:

and finally, the spectacularly evocative WININ’ BOY BLUES, which has as many interpretations attached to it as you can imagine.  Looking around online for the record label below, I found someone reproducing the lyrics as “whining boy.”  For goodness’ sake.  Morton never whined, nor does his music.

Perhaps the truth lies in between the Library of Congress lyrics and the idea of someone bringing wine to resuscitate hard-working women:

Yes, it MUST be Jelly when Andrew Oliver and David Horniblow get together, no matter which side of the room the piano nestles, although they can and do play many more beautiful songs.  Wonderfully.

P.S.  And. . . . have you heard the Vitality Five’s latest e-78, which pairs LAND OF COTTON BLUES and THAT’S NO BARGAIN?  Check it out (as they used to say on the Forty-Second Street of my adolescence — New Yorkers will get the reference — here.

May your happiness increase!

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“THIS NEW ART FORM”: ANDREW OLIVER and DAVID HORNIBLOW TALK AND PLAY JELLY ROLL MORTON

What a nice surprise — a mini-documentary featuring the two Onlie Begetters of the Complete Morton Project, Andrew Oliver, piano; David Horniblow, reeds:

and last week’s treats (I’m always lagging behind): MISTER JOE, named for Joe Oliver:

and JERSEY JOE, which I have speculated — with no particular evidence — might be in tribute to the boxer Jersey Joe Walcott, although it could have been someone who tipped Morton heavily on a New Jersey gig.  Another mystery:

We were taught as children that sharing was what good people do, not just a social obligation.  So I salute Andrew and David, who have so much to share and have done so expertly and generously.  We love them no matter which side of the room the piano is on.  Great couch pillows, too: stylish in all things.

May your happiness increase!

“I’LL HAVE SIX OF YOUR BEST MORTONS, PLEASE!”: DAVID HORNIBLOW and ANDREW OLIVER PLAY JELLY ROLL

I’ve fallen behind in my Morton studies, but Professors Oliver (piano) and Horniblow (reeds) of the Complete Morton Project are forgiving.  So here’s a hot half-dozen.

GEORGIA SWING (in a performance that has some of the dash of the 1928 WEATHER BIRD to it):

GET THE BUCKET (with compact glee-club vocals):

The poignant IF SOMEONE WOULD ONLY LOVE ME:

Was Mabel FUSSY or simply sensitive?  The label calls her “Meticulosa,” which sounds better.  We can’t know, but hear this:

Wow, here’s PRETTY LIL (who had a better press agent than Mabel, I guess):

Finally, the floral-sounding PRIMROSE STOMP:

And leave us not forget the Vitality Five’s July e-78:

I have a small collection of 78s, but I applaud e-78s as well: they don’t break and take up less space.  And when one has to move, there’s none of that lower back pain.  Highly recommended.

May your happiness increase!

MORTONIC CAPERS: ANDREW OLIVER, DAVID HORNIBLOW, and SURPRISE GUESTS MICHAEL McQUAID and NICHOLAS D. BALL

Two kinds of surprise, one subtle and one cinematic-vaudevillian-theatrical from the Complete Morton Project.  More details here.

First, DIXIE KNOWS — a composition Morton never recorded — played beautifully by Andrew Oliver, piano; David Horniblow, clarinet:

Then, a party!  The Complete Morton Project invited two friends over, increasing the band by 200%: Michael McQuaid on reeds and Nicholas D. Ball on drums and hilarity — for HYENA STOMP:

Should you be tempted to dismiss HYENA STOMP as pure goofiness, listen to Morton’s Library of Congress solo rendition:

Anyone who thinks of Morton as a limited improviser who didn’t swing should be given a fifteen-minute immersion in that performance, which I marvel at.

But HYENA STOMP (in the 1927 Victor version) is elusive in one detail.  I tried to find out about Lew LeMar, who says, “That’s terrible, Jelly!” and then does the laughing — choose your own adjective.  I know there is a tradition of laughter being recorded as part of an act (consider the OKeh LAUGHING RECORD and later, LAUGHIN’ LOUIE) but I can find no information on the exuberant Mr. LeMar.  Even William Russell’s seven-hundred page Morton scrapbook has no entry for him in the index.

And thus I am free to imagine.  Did Jelly and Lew know each other from vaudeville?  Had they met at a theatre or bar, with Jelly saying, “I’ve got a record date in three days and I want you on it?”  Or was LeMar appearing on another Victor recording at the same time?  Was he the recording supervisor’s idea?  Was HYENA STOMP — very close to one strain of KING PORTER — created for LeMar?  What was union scale for vocal effects?  This unsolved mystery pleases me.  But it makes me smile, which is a good thing in itself.  Let us hope that we always have reasons to laugh.

May your happiness increase!

“WAITER, PLEASE, A HUNCH AND SOME WATERS!”: ANDREW OLIVER and DAVID HORNIBLOW PLAY MORTON

I’m so glad these two indefatigable fellows continue offering us musical presents.  That’s Andrew Oliver at the piano (supple, exact, swinging) and David Horniblow playing clarinet (his Tonation and Phrasing can’t be beat).  As always, you may learn more about their Complete Morton Project here and subscribe to their YouTube channel here.  I am pleased to see that the number of subscribers is now more than one hundred: art like this deserves the widest possible audience.

SEATTLE HUNCH, which I can only characterize as “jolly”:

and the more pensive MUDDY WATERS BLUES:

Two ruminations came to mind, along with the first half of this morning’s coffee (an aid to imaginative thought).  One: we forget the depth of Morton’s catalogue of compositions.  I suspect that most people versed in this idiom could name a dozen of his pieces, but David and Andrew, wondrous excavators, are just about halfway through one hundred.

Two: the first song sent me to inquire, however shallowly, into the etymology of “hunch,” as in having an intuitive notion, a feeling, a guess.  The origins are vague, but it goes back to around 1620, as a push, a shove, a thrust.  I envision two people on the street, one nudging the other — if only to mutely say, “Don’t step in that,” or “Look at who’s coming down the street!”  There are, of course, all the speculations about physical deformity and good luck, but those I will leave you to explore on your own, preferably not in comments.

What Morton’s hunch about Seattle was, for this morning, will remain mysterious as well.  He also had a hunch about or in Stratford, now that I remember.  Since he also made a living hustling the suckers at the pool table, I wonder if one or the other hunch was “It’s now time to get out of this burg, and soon.”  An intuitive fellow.

But the music!  The music is luminous.  Another great gift from Andrew, David, and Mister Jelly.

May your happiness increase!

THEY KEEP KEEPIN’ ON: ANDREW OLIVER / DAVID HORNIBLOW PLAY MORTON

More from the Complete Morton Project, with never a letup: Andrew Oliver, piano, and David Horniblow, reeds.  They seem so supercharged that even I, who spend more time at the computer than my MD would like, lag behind.  Here’s a roundup of recent delights.

From Morton’s 1938 solo session, HONKY TONK MUSIC:

and Morton’s paean to his common-law wife, Anita Gonzales, SWEET ANITA MINE:

and the rather dark and somber, I HATE A MAN LIKE YOU, recorded by Morton and Lizzie Miles in 1929:

I wouldn’t feel right ending this blogpost on that particularly dark note, so Andrew and David romp for us through THE NAKED DANCE, which must have been exhausting as well as thrilling:

Not surprisingly, Andrew and David and their colleagues have to eat, pay utility bills and rent, do laundry — all things that require funding — so in addition to watching these free videos (that concept unhinges me a bit when I consider an economy for artists who offer us such beneficences for nothing) — I encourage you to support them in tangible ways.  If you live in England or thereabouts, go to gigs — the Dime Notes, the Vitality 5, and others; if you are not so close, you can support their efforts buy purchasing CDs, and get some fine music for yourself in this fashion, through a monthly series of e-78s (what a gentle oxymoron of epochs contained there).

David explains: “So this month’s Vitality Five e78 – available on Spotify, Itunes, Deezer etc etc, features a couple of things I did for the band. Firstly the spooky faux-exotic ‘Sphinx’ – originally recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in London, 1920. The ODJB prided themselves of their supposed roughness and musically illiteracy (although that was more hype than reality). As a contrast, ‘Deep Blue Sea Blues’ pays homage to two of the great sophisticates of 1920’s saxophone, alto player Bobby Davis – ably recreated by Michael McQuaid – and the high priest of the bass sax, Adrian Rollini. Follow the link if you fancy a listen https://vitalityfive.com/…/06/17/sphinx-deep-blue-sea-blues/.”

Here’s a sample of their May e-78 of EVERY EVENING:

Truly remarkable.  And generous in ways hard to imagine but glorious to receive.

May your happiness increase!

THEY KEEP ROLLING ON: ANDREW OLIVER and DAVID HORNIBLOW PLAY MORTON

The Complete Morton Project “never fails to satisfy,” as they used to say: they are (or “it is”) Andrew Oliver, piano; David Horniblow, reeds.  You can read more here.

We begin with LOW GRAVY, the tail end of an expression common in the early part of the last century.  Hard to explain, but if you vanquished an opponent (another person or band) you might have “cut him down to a low gravy,” which in its own oblique way is self-explanatory.  Nothing remained of the challenger except a few spoonfuls at the bottom of the saucepan, I presume.  But the composition is more than that:

STATE AND MADISON was the busiest intersection in Chicago.  Courtesy of WTTW, see representations of that street scene from 1936 to 1918 here.

And the soundtrack:

The irresistible JAZZ JUBILEE — never recorded by Morton — sweeps us along:

Finally (for this week’s offering) HARMONY BLUES, which has brief echoes of other Morton pieces but is a seductive theme on its own.

I thought, hearing it for the first time, that it would also be captivating scored for a small string ensemble:

May your happiness increase!