Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (October 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941) was an American virtuoso pianist, a bandleader, and a composer who some call the first true composer of jazz music. Morton was a colorful character who liked to generate publicity for himself by bragging. His business card referred to him as the "Originator of Jazz".
Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe was born into a Creole community in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana in September, 1890. His parents were Edward J. Lamothe and Louise Monette (written as Lemott and Monett on his baptismal certificate). Eulaley Haco (Eulalie HÃ©caud) was the godparent. Ferdinandâ€™s parents were in a common-law marriage and not legally married. No birth certificate has been found to date. He took the name "Morton" by Anglicizing the name of his step-father, Mouton.
He was (along with Tony Jackson) one of the best regarded pianists in the Storyville District early in the 20th century. Tony Jackson was the main influence on his music; according to Morton, Jackson was the only pianist better than him. Among other ...