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Jelly Roll Morton: “I created jazz in 1902”

In 1938, in an interview with DownBeat, famous jazz and blues magazine, Jelly Roll Morton claimed that he was the inventor of jazz. He stated, “I created jazz in 1902, not W.C. Handy.”

As of today, it is common sense that Jelly Roll Morton was simply wrong. Jelly Roll Morton was a ragtime -a popular musical tradition based on European and African musical culture- musician in the 1890s. He was one of the most famous names in ragtime style with Scott Joplin, Tom Turpin, James Scott, and many more. However, Jelly Roll Morton managed to improve and amend his style towards the 1900s.

He pioneered the improvised style in melodic structures in New Orleans. He was one of the first musicians who managed to free himself from the ragtime style which was based on composition. He stated that he started improvising because he was simply forgetting the melody composed beforehand.

Although we cannot deny that he was a major influence in the birth of jazz, today, we knew that his interview with DownBeat and sensational one-liners shows his overconfidence in his work and his bragging style:

Jelly Roll Morton

The originator of Jazz and Stomps

Victor Artist

World’s Greatest Hot Tune Writer

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