Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Mr. Jelly Lord: eBay Selling Prices for Vintage Jelly Roll Morton 78s

Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Mr. Jelly Lord: eBay Selling Prices for Vintage Jelly Roll Morton 78s

Article excerpt

One of the most collectible artists from the 1920s era on original jazz 78s is none other than Jelly Roll Morton. He modestly claimed to have invented jazz, and whether or not one goes along with that bit of braggadocio, there is no question that Mr. Morton left behind an incredibly fine recorded legacy - from his first piano solos for Paramount and Gennett up to his final recordings for Bluebird, General, Commodore, and The Library of Congress. His recorded literature includes piano solos, vocals with piano, small groups (trios), as well as full bands. He also very rarely provided piano accompaniments for blues singers. Fortunately, the bulk of his output in band form was on Victor, whose smooth full-range sound, particularly on well-preserved copies with quiet surfaces, is shown to full advantage. Writers have stated that Morton's "marching band" style was already outdated when he made his first Red Hot Peppers recordings. However, the sheer number of them, as well as the number of copies that are still in circulation, suggests otherwise!

It has been said that Morton's piano style was such that the piano was intended to fill in for a full orchestra. His piano arrangements were full-bodied, two-handed tours de force. Conversely, though he may have been a braggart, his piano certainly did not monopolize his band recordings. Jelly's presence on any vintage band recording is usually readily audible and his full-bodied arrangements are easily identifiable on recordings where Morton is unbilled. It's a given that, as in the case of the "Armstrong Hot Five" (Lil's Hot Shots) Vocalion (1037), the Victor people, if they heard any of these records, probably were not fooled.

Like many jazz artists, Jelly's recorded output dwindled to near zero during the Great Depression years as tastes changed. One notable exception is the delightful 1934 Wingy Mannone Band coupling of "Never Had No Lovin'" and "I'm Alone without You", recorded by ARC and only issued a few years later only on Special Editions. Both are great early examples of performances by an integrated group. Morton's presence is more audible on the second title, with a brief piano solo. Interestingly enough, although Manone calls out names of most of the players on the first title, he fails to acknowledge Morton. These two sides were the total of Morton's recorded output after 1930 until his revival years in the late 1930s. To the best of the author's knowledge, no copies of this disc have been offered on eBay in recent years.

Here, then, is a compilation of about five years' worth of eBay selling prices for original Morton 78 rpm discs. As Morton has always been a very popular jazz artist, quite a number of discs have been offered. The recordings are arranged as much as possible in order of increasing grade. Keep in mind that some leeway must be allowed in grading, as scales can and do vary somewhat among different sellers. Abbreviations seen in conjunction with listed condition are those commonly seen on auction lists. Selling price is generally commensurate with condition. However, the correlation may be obscured with the passage of time, as selling prices for the rarest items continually increase. Note that even relatively common discs in pristine condition do fetch premium prices.

The Rialto disc, a custom pressing for the Rialto Music Stores, is extremely rare. Curiously, two copies have been offered in recent months, the second on a conventional printed/ mail order auction list. …

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