Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, more commonly known as Jelly Roll Morton, was born to a creole family in a poor neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Morton lived with several family members in different areas of New Orleans, exposing him to different musical worlds including European and classical music, dance music, and the blues (Gushee, 394). Morton tried to play several different instruments including the guitar; however, unsatisfied with the teachers’ lack of training, he decided to teach himself how to play instruments without formal training (Lomax, 8). ...
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...leans style of music and influenced how big bands in the later eras would approach jazz. The compositions provided information on how to accurately notate improvisatory jazz music on paper and thus, laid the foundation for the next stage in the jazz timeline: the swing era.
Though Jelly Roll Morton began his career without formal training, he grew to live an influential life. His piano style, musical notations on paper, and creative compositions thrived in the 1910s and the 1920s and even weaved its way into the later eras as musicians used Morton’s music as the foundation for their own. Even past his death, Jelly Roll Morton remains a legendary figure. His works are meticulously preserved and displayed in the prestigious Smithsonian Museum and universities around the world continue his legacy by teaching students about Jelly Roll Morton and his influential career.
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