Complete Morton #10 – Stratford Hunch / Load of Coal

Well we’ve reached the 10th week of the year of David Horniblow and I playing all of Jelly’s tunes…(full explanation), and this week we’ll start with one of his very classic early tunes which was recorded in 1923 for the Gennett Record Company in Richmond, Indiana.  The label was initially just an afterthought by which the piano makers thought they could make an extra buck off of the new recording technology, and the records were made in a small overheated shed behind the factory with pretty rudimentary equipment. However, their enthusiasm for jazz and relaxed attitude resulted in many of the most seminal recordings of jazz between 1922 and 1925 being made on Gennett, including classics by Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong with King Oliver, and of course Morton’s first solo sessions, including this great tune, “Stratford Hunch.”  It’s a lovely three section (or “strain”) piece of the typical Morton structure (AABACCC, in case you are keeping track), and has a variety of textures in the first sections which are a bit unusual and typically well thought-out for this period of Morton tunes.  Incidentally, the song was also recorded under the name of “Chicago Breakdown” by a number of other bands, including Louis Armstrong with Carroll Dickerson’s band, so we’ve incorporated a bit of that into our arrangement as well.

Secondly today, David pulls out the alto again for a rendition of one of those very infrequently covered late 1920s band tracks, “Load of Coal.” This was originally the other side of the record with “Oil Well” which I suppose comprises a sort of “fossil fuels suite”, so to speak…Anyway this one is much more of a straightforward song form with a chorus and a verse and not too much to it compositionally, but it’s a fun tempo and stompy vibe, and David gets a bit avant garde on the alto too!  Hope you enjoy.


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