Complete Morton #43 – Wolverine Blues

This week we have only one tune for you, as David and I have been out on tour for the majority of the past month, but never fear, next week we’ll be back to 2 a week for the remainder of the project (only 5 more weeks to go!)

This week’s tune is the famous “Wolverine Blues,” one of Jelly’s most famous tunes which was written in the teens and performed by a variety of bands throughout the 20s.  It was published by the Spikes Brothers, Morton’s first publishers, who added mediocre lyrics and claimed partial composer credit in the time-honored way, though the lyrics are almost never performed.  Anyway, it has become one of the most famous tunes in traditional jazz, even giving its name to Bix Beiderbecke’s first band the Wolverines, as well as having been performed and recorded countless times both in the 20s and since.  Morton recorded it in 1923 as a solo and sitting in with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in the same year, then a couple of years later in a strange duet performance with white clarinetist Volly DeFaut, in which they reverse the order of the sections in a very unusual move.  His most famous recording of the tune is the 1927 trio recording with Johnny and Baby Dodds, a fantastic performance by all 3 musicians and one of the greatest recordings of the era.

For our version, David went for a historical compendium of the various solos by the clarinetists on those recordings, starting with a chorus from Volly DeFaut, then moving on to Leon Rappollo’s solo with the NORK, and finally the famous Johnny Dodds choruses.  A bit nerdy but hopefully interesting, and we’ve even labeled them for your information and enjoyment!!

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