Ole Larson's Folks

Died in Ipswitch, Massachusetts, on this date in 1654: 10th great-grandfather John Perkins. A female descendant of his married into the Colby line later. Perkins was born in Warwickshire, England, and has a controversial lineage going back to Medieval royalty. The skeptics have a lot on their side, but that is another story. John Perkins’ daughter Mary was convicted of witchcraft in the last year of witch persecutions, but her death sentence was not carried out. Read more …


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Outside the family, born in downtown New Orleans on this date in 1890*; Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known by his stage name, Jelly Roll Morton. Immodestly, but with more than a grain of truth, Morton claimed to have “invented jazz” and even gave the year, “1906.” His remarkable career began as a brothel pianist, which got him kicked out of his grandmother’s home at age 14. He reached great heights as a virtuoso pianist and bandleader, and most remarkably, as the first jazz arranger, proving that the improvisitory  style could be notated. His composition, “Jelly Roll Blues,” was the first published jazz tune, in 1915. The rendition below of “Wolverine Blues” was recorded in 1927. To me, it highlights the transition from ragtime to jazz – and cements Jelly Roll’s place as a pivotal figure in music. To really drive home the point – the killer sax solo that starts about halfway through.

  • At least three birth dates are given for Morton in various documents.
19 September
21 September