That Spanish Tinge

Jelly Roll Morton at the keys
Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe a.k.a. Jelly Roll Morton

The New Orleans roots of blues and jazz always featured an Afro-Caribbean element. Writer Ashawnta Jackson offers a look back at what Jelly Roll Morton referred to as a “Spanish tinge.” It emerged from a cultural cross wind including Mexico and re-incorporated Cuban and Spanish sounds.

Mexican influence also found its way to New Orleans’s music scene in the late 1800s and early 1900s through groups like La Orquesta Tipica Mexicana and the Mexican Artistic Quintet, Narváez writes. Musicians like pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton and his future bandmate Lorenzo Tio Jr., a Creole clarinetist who also had Mexican roots, also combined those influences. As Morton told ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, “[I]f you can’t manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz.”

read more here:

How Mexican and Cuban Music Influenced the Blues

Dr. Jazz

Pioneering New Orleans cornet player Joe “King” Oliver wrote “Doctor Jazz”  in 1926.  The song has remained popular since the 1920s. Chris Barber and Harry Connick Jr. have covered it, but Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers achieved definitive heights of improvisation and collective counterpoint in this 1926 version: