Posts from 30th July 2002

30
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 8: JELLY ROLL MORTON – Ham And Eggs

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 1,370 views

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 8: JELLY ROLL MORTON – Ham And Eggs

I wonder if you have ever applied for a job dear reader. I know I have. Its important to be specific on ones CV – mine has the usual clauses (will work for gin, no mornings or indeed early afternoons, absolutely no music in the office) but often our success lies in our previous qualifications. So imagine if you will a CV which contained a previous job so terrible, so despicable that you would never work again. Inventor of the gas chamber would be one. Designer of Mr Blobby might be another. Voice of Woody Woodpecker would certainly be a third. But the claim on Jelly Roll Morton’s CV puts all of these into shame, shame I tell you. For even if you got past the fact that young Ferdinand for some reason prefered the moniker Jelly Roll – you would not be able to ignore this genocidical error. Clears as the gut on his oversized body it said “Inventor Of Jazz”.

Jazz is something I have talked about at length before. A musical form which is rife with contradictions – based on improvisation and yet stiflingly dull. And one of the reasons for this contradiction is the man with the foodstuff in his name. For if there is one thing worse that inventing jazz, it must surely be pretending to invent jazz. Jazz had been around for ages before Jelly Roll got on the case. Jazz had been annoying punters in New Orleans for a good twenty years before Morton decided to invent it, burbling here and there with a touch of ragtime and other easily improvised arrangements. What Morton did was to write it down. Apparently a classically trained pianist I can certainly see his desire to get away from the so-called classics. And if his idea was to write down a new form of unlistenable music to make everyone realise that al music was inherently a tissue of tat then I could applaude him. But instead this womanised, gambler and occasional piano abuse set down the “rules” for writing down boring old jazz standards.

Ham And Eggs is one such trad piece of tedium. Named after his favourite breakfast treat it was one of many songs that this unsurprisingly fat man wrote about food and eating. His sweet tooth was so bad that he had to get his gnashers replaced by a diamond, which he later pawned in the depression. Indeed there is a school of thought (Headmistress Ms T.Headon) that puts the Depression in the US wholly down to the invention of Jazz as a form. With a music so directionless, you got listeners being equally directionless or even suicidal. Hence a massive stock market crash and an inability to afford Ham And Eggs, or even a Jelly Roll. Let alone a lousy 78 rpm recording of a man named after a foodstuff singing a song about food.

diskant

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diskant – “a network of websites by independent fanzines, bands and record labels”, based in Glasgow and included here because it’s doing a good thing and because I want to make more effort with my links sidebar and this serves as a handy reminder. (Also they emailed me!)

UK Garage In 2001 – Down Down BIZZNIZZ

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by Tim Finney

Part 1: The Scene

I’m obsessed, I know; I bang on about it endlessly, analysing minute shifts and gradations, imagining radical mutations that only exist in my head, devoting reams of print space to nothing much in particular. And yet, despite all this, UK Garage is an awfully difficult area of music for me to write about. Difficult because I’m aware of how personally involved I am in the music’s success – an involvement that cleverer and healthier listeners tend to shy away from. Sometimes I feel like my patronage – downloading tracks, buying compilations, visiting clubs by myself if necessary, and then turning those experiences into something I can write about that might interest others – is all that keeps the style on its feet, keeps it generating delights for me in some sort of elaborate karmic feedback loop. To be obsessed with an artist is one thing, but to have such an attachment to something so abstract as a ìsceneî or ìmovementî is quite another, and even then UK Garage seems an odd choice, requiring a particularly skewed worldview. Clearly I’m not the right person for an impartial assessment.

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