Complete Morton #31 – Sweet Substitute / If You Knew

Today’s entry in the Complete Morton Project features two tunes from Jelly’s 1940 session for General Records, his last band recordings.  “Sweet Substitute” is a great bluesy tune, which features one of Red Allen’s best trumpet solos on the original recording.  There’s a great interview with Albert Nicholas, the clarinetist on the original, about the genesis of this tune:

So Red says, “What are we going to play?” Jelly says, “Well just wait a minute, you’ll get your part. Just wait a minute.” When he got through making their little arrangements he handed each one his part. No name, no title, and he says, “Let’s run this down and see how it is, and get a balance.” And he played this beautiful number, and he says, “Now Nick, you take this in here, and this in there, and this is together.” We ran it down — a beautiful tune — no name yet. So the man, he said, “We’re ready to make a take.” He got a balance OK and we hit the thing and went on through it, one take — perfect.  The man said, “Jelly, you want to make another one?” Jelly said, “Why? Why make another one?” That’s after he’d heard it. “Let that one go. What do you want? Mistakes? You want us to make mistakes and that’s the one you gonna put out. I know you fellows. No, this is it,” and he laughed. “Oh Jelly, what’s the name of this?” “Sweet Substitute.” A beautiful tune.

Secondly this week is “If You Knew,” from the same session.  Now, the first section of the chord progression is identical to an earlier tune “Courthouse Bump,” but at a much quicker tempo.  This one then adds a longer tag and a very unusual verse.  This is another of Morton’s later tunes which fits more into a pop tune type mold rather than the earlier type of hot stomps he wrote in the teens and 20s.

Thanks for sticking with us so far, more on the way including the return of the bass clarinet in a few weeks!  Stay tuned.

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