In 1926 and early 1927 Jelly Roll Morton recorded what are arguably the most important traditional jazz records ever made. Calling his group the ‘Red Hot Peppers’, the sides they cut for the Victor Talking Machine Company are the earliest fully-orchestrated ‘hot jazz’ recordings featuring a tightly rehearsed and hard swinging band. The above recording, ‘Dr. Jazz’ (sometimes known as ‘Hello Central Give Me Dr. Jazz’) was recorded on December 16th 1926 and is an especially strong example of Morton’s arranging and band leading skills–the members of the band often recalled him as a much more disciplined and demanding leader than most other jazzers of the day. The songs concept–someone is calling a switchboard asking for a mysterious man named Dr. Jazz who may be, in the secret parlance of the time, a ‘doctor’ who doles out things that make you happy–is very modern for the day,  given that switchboards were then the apex of technology. A week from now the record will turn ninety-six years of age and the rather incredible re-mastering job makes it sound like you’re in a room almost a hundred years ago listening to a live band. Morton is the vocalist as well as the pianist by the way, and he rocks hard at both.



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