A new perspective on one of America’s most important musical figures of the 20th century
The Complete Morton Project grew out of a side project by pianist Andrew Oliver and clarinetist David Horniblow to learn all 100 or so known compositions of the great pioneering New Orleans jazz pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton in 2018, posting two per week to YouTube for the whole year. Andrew and David have been collaborating since 2013 when Andrew moved to London from Portland, Oregon and David returned to London after a year in Australia. They work together primarily with the Dime Notes where their grooving bluesy approach to 20s jazz has garnered rave reviews from the UK and international press as well as with the Vitality Five where they unearth a wide variety of obscure 20s tunes with authenticity and finesse.
Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton was the first true jazz composer, one of the earliest jazz pioneers who brought together the disparate influences in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century – ragtime, blues, Caribbean and African musics, marches and French opera – to create a new musical form that took the world by storm in a matter of decades. Morton’s famous claim that he single-handedly invented jazz illustrates his supreme level of arrogance, but his intricate compositions and arrangements demonstrate a level of refinement beyond many of his peers at the time. Within his hundred or so compositions are a wide variety of tunes ranging from complex multi-part rags and stomps to low down blues numbers, sentimental pop tunes, and the all-important “Spanish tinge,” Morton’s term for the habanera rhythm which permeated his theory of jazz rhythm. Of course, in addition to his compositions, Morton was a singular talent at the piano, performing in a uniquely full-bodied and contrapuntal style reflecting his belief that the piano should be a one-man representation of a whole band.
Andrew and David have adapted all of Morton’s compositions for their duo, an intriguing process which has meant reducing some of the band tunes and expanding Jelly’s solo pieces for the duo format. David’s versatility on clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax and bass sax provides textural variety while the stripped-down instrumentation highlights the compositions themselves outside of their original context of Morton’s well-known recorded output. The Complete Morton Project provides a new perspective on one of America’s most important musical figures of the 20th century, performed with virtuosity and finesse by two of the most notable members of London’s thriving traditional jazz scene.
Everything is phenomenally well played, with a freshness that dispels any suspicion of solemn archaism.
DAVE GELLY – JAZZ JOURNAL
ANDREW OLIVER – Piano
DAVID HORNIBLOW – Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bass Saxophone, Alto Sax
CLIVE DAVIS THE SUNDAY TIMES UK
ACKER BILK UK
MATT FLEEGER KMHD JAZZ RADIO USA
HUGH RAINEY – JAZZ JOURNAL UK
EVAN CHRISTOPHER USA
CLIVE DAVIS – THE SUNDAY TIMES UK
KENNY BALL UK