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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Jelly Roll Blues: A Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton

Arbors ARDC 19392




  1. Tiger Rag
  2. Jelly Roll Blues
  3. The Fingerbreaker
  4. The Pearls
  5. King Porter Stomp
  6. Buddy Bolden´s Blues
  7. The Crave
  8. Grandpa´s Spells
  9. Perfect Rag
  10. Wolverine Blues
  11. Winin´ Boy Blues
  12. Frog-I-More Rag
  13. Mister Joe
  14. Shreveport Stomp
  15. Mr. Jelly Lord

Jim Turner (piano)
Topsy Chapman (vocals - Mr. Jelly Lord)
rec. March 2008 at Mendelsohn Hall at the Maestro Foundation in Santa Monica, CA and October 2007 at Audiphile Recording Studios, New Orleans, LA (Mr. Jelly Lord)

It does, as they say, what it says on the tin. Here is the experienced Jim Turner, a member since 2003 of Jim Cullum’s excellent band in Texas, laying out his Mortonesque wares in a tribute album to the pimp, shark, piano tickler and self promoting Inventor of Jazz.

The acoustic is a touch too echo-y for my own tastes but it doesn’t dampen enthusiasm for Turner’s catchy playing. His tiger impersonations in Tiger Rag are not messed up and he breaks out into Jelly Roll Blues with a fair degree of insouciance. The Fingerbreaker, as the name suggests, is a fearsomely virtuosic effusion designed to challenge the digitally weak: Turner escapes censure, and plays finely. I like the chordal warmth he brings to King Porter Stomp as well as the blues cadences he infiltrates too.

Grandpa’s Spells receives an ebullient performance but Winin’ Boy is stripped of braggadocio, mining instead the ‘late’ Morton recording in which reflection, intimacy, introspection and a certain wistful self-awareness were key components. Still, Shreveport Stomp is a nice tune that deserves, and here receives, a dapper and amusing dusting down. Turner is good at the ethos of Jelly’s music and has the right timbre and stance for it. For the final track he’s joined by Topsy Chapman who unveils a good vocal on Mr Jelly Lord.

Naturally there have been a plethora of Morton-only recordings over the years and there are plenty of specialists, as well as recreationists, across the Globe, who have tapped into Morton’s style. Turner isn’t a stickler for the book – and to be fair he’s not as all-alone in the field as he makes out in his exclamation mark-strewn booklet notes. He does things his way. And it’s a good way.

Jonathan Woolf

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