Complete Morton #20 – Fingerbuster / Blue Blood Blues

Well, the year is really moving along as we’ve reached week 20 of the Complete Morton Project!  To celebrate, we’re featuring Morton’s fast-paced showpiece “Fingerbuster”!  We figured it would be pretty awkward to play the melody on clarinet so we’ve busted out the bass saxophone again to accompany the somewhat silly but undeniably exciting piano part.  Morton wrote this one in 1938, and called it “the most difficult piece of jazz piano ever written.”  Typical Morton hyperbole, it’s not really as demanding as some of Johnson and Waller’s fast showpieces, but it does require a lot of energy and pretty epic left hand stamina to pull off!  Suffice to say it was a pain in the ass to learn this one, as you can imagine the state of my left hand after practicing it 10 times in a row!!  Anyway, Jelly recorded this in a private home in Baltimore in 1938 after a band session that was supposed to be held on that day failed to materialize.  It was not long after he was stabbed in the chest trying to break up a fight at the bar he co-owned in Washington, D.C.  His doctors forbade him from playing for health reasons, and his response (of course) was to just turn up and play this!

And for a moment of relative calm, this week’s second piece is the lovely “Blue Blood Blues,” with a really great piano intro and a nice 16 bar blues progression of the type that Morton preferred for his slower pieces.  Hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for more, we’re getting near the halfway mark here at Morton HQ!

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