Glossary entry for
Morton, Jelly Roll

Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941) was a jazz piano player who began his career in New Orleans houses of ill repute. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & Cassette (ISBN 0 1401-5364-0) describes him as "the self-styled originator of jazz and stomps", and gives the following CD a 5-star rating, meaning that they feel it to be of "a desert-island calibre, numbering among the very finest of all jazz recordings": Jelly Roll Morton Volume One JSP CD 321 CD. The CD features recordings made between 12/28 and 12/29.

The following passage is from The Story of English by McCrum, MacNeil and Cran. New, revised edition. London: Faber & Faber; BBC books, 1992 page 237:

"Upstaged during one performance be a black comedian (who introduced himself as "Sweet Papa Cream Puff right out of the bakery shop"), Morton had gone one better and announced himself as "Sweet Papa Jelly Roll, with stove pipes in my hips and all the women in town dyin' to turn my damper down."

Van's use of "Mr. Jelly Roll" in "On Hyndford Street" is most likely a reference to Alan Lomax's 1949 biography of Jelly Roll Morton, entitled Mr. Jelly Roll.

Given Van's lyrical ambiguity, it is open to interpretation whether the various "jelly roll" references are to the jazz piano player, or to the sexual act (see the glossary entry for "jellyroll" for a discussion on the meaning behind the nickname, and some additional Van references).

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