Jelly Roll Morton’s role in the creation of jazz is invaluable and immeasurable, so when Morton and folklorist Alan Lomax came together in 1938 to create an oral history of jazz for the Library on Congress, it was to be expected that the recording would be deep in history and rich in historical context.
This first recorded oral history of jazz will be released complete and unexpurgated for the first time on Sept. 27 when Rounder and the Alan Lomax Archive release the eight-disc boxed set The Complete Library of Congress Recordings By Alan Lomax. Seven of the discs are the 1938 recordings, with a bonus disc of vintage interviews of Morton’s peers conducted by Lomax.
The set also includes Lomax’s biography of Morton, Mister Jelly Roll, and a new 80-page book with an appreciation by John Szwed and rare photographs. Additionally, there are expanded liner notes and a new, comprehensive transcription with Lomax’s hand-written annotations included as an Adobe PDF document.
The album is co-produced by Anna Lomax Wood, Alan Lomax’s daughter and director of the Alan Lomax Archive, and Jeffrey A. Greenberg, producer of the Alan Lomax: Popular Songbook album. Prior to this release, a majority of the stories had been issued on 78s, LPs and CDs, but never in their original and complete running order.
The recording itself is an interwoven historical document, with Morton reminiscing detailed stories of jazz’s formative years, narratives accentuated by musical illustrations and solo piano versions of his best-known compositions. Tales of musicians, dandies, prostitutes and hustlers abound, making for an interesting story.