For this week’s Jelly Roll Morton selections, we start off with the final of his four 1929 solo tunes for you, “Seattle Hunch.” This was an interesting recording session which yielded some unfortunately sloppy performances of four great tunes (in addition to this one, there’s “Freakish,” “Pep,” and “Frances“). This one is perhaps the least organized of the four. My theory is that Jelly was busy with his band in this period and wasn’t playing much piano – in fact around this time he had a band which he just conducted and only occasionally played a solo. He talks in some interviews about how recording was just a way to make a bit of money and he didn’t see it as part of any sort of larger artistic legacy so I imagine these sort of fit in with that philosophy, even though the tunes themselves are fantastic. On the original recording he gets confused and lapses into “Frances” halfway through “Seattle Hunch”! Anyway, here is our version of this one, which I particularly like as it’s about the Pacific Northwest!
Secondly we have “Muddy Water Blues,” a great multi part blues from Morton’s very first recording session in 1923 on the notorious Paramount label, home of many great artists and well known for its appalling recording quality. The original featured Jasper Taylor on washboard, about whom my colleague and buddy Nick Ball has written a very interesting article! Anyway, it’s a nice blues with a verse, very rarely played these days but certainly worthy of more performances.