Nick Ward’s Jelly Roll Quartet

Apr 24, 2019

Nick Ward – drums
Tom “Spats” Langham – banjo/guitar
John Maddocks – clarinet
Jon Penn – keyboard

Another great and successful night at the club. It was another well attended evening and we are all the more knowledgeable about some of the life and times of Jelly Roll Morton. He sounds like he was one of jazz’s characters for sure – from thinking he invented jazz to his voodoo beliefs to his great compositions.

The session started with Frog-i-more Rag and continued with some lesser known tunes such as Little Lawrence, Turtle Twist, Once or Twice of Junie Cob fame which was sung by John with a drum solo from Nick.Georgia Swing was a great tune with a tricky intro, My Home is in a Southern Town had banjo intro and vocals from Spats, Deadman Blues, Chevy Chase an amazing duo number with Jon on keyboard and Nick on drums and a 1927 Johnny Dodds tune Oh Lizzie brought the first set to a close.

The second half was equally as exciting and informative with tunes Pontchartrain, Forty & Tight a composition by Frank Melrose who was the publisher for Jelly Roll’s music and an excellent tune recorded by Dodds, Why from 1938, Smiling the Blues Away another rare tune from the Morton Trio, Maple Leaf Rag which Spats told us had sold a million copies – this was a feature for Tom and you could have heard a pin drop – mesmerising. Getting near to the end of this set Nick announced that audience participation was required for the next tune and he produced musical accompaniment instruments and handed them round to recreate the 1926 Chicago Sidewalk sounds for Sidewalk Blues. A good job they all did too. Kansas City Stomp was the band’s final number and this unfortunately brought the evening to a close.

A really enjoyable session and time passed all too quickly. These four musicians all gel so well together and the fact that they don’t get to play too much as this quartet as they all play with and lead other bands shows what incredible musicians they are.

Here’s to the next time.