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February 14, 2006

Library of Congress Recordings of Jelly Roll Morton Win at Grammys

Awards Were for Best Historical Album and Best Liner Notes

"Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax" (Rounder Records) won in two categories at the 48th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 8. The Grammy for best historical album was presented to Jeffrey Greenberg and Anna Lomax Wood, compilation producers, and Adam Ayan and Steve Rosenthal, mastering engineers. The award for liner notes went to jazz scholar and folklorist John Szwed.

"We’re thrilled that the Jelly Roll Morton set won at the Grammy Awards," said Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress, the division that houses the original Jelly Roll Morton discs. "Anna Lomax Wood called me from the festivities to let me know." In their acceptance speech, the producers thanked both the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center.

Musicologist, anthropologist, producer, and writer Alan Lomax began collecting folk music for the Library of Congress with his father at the age of 18. Over six decades he recorded and documented traditional cultures, believing that all cultures should be recorded and presented to the public. His life's work gathered thousands of field recordings of folk musicians throughout the American South, Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast, as well as in Haiti, the Bahamas, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. They are now part of the American Folklife Center’s Archive.

Lomax’s conversations with New Orleans jazz pioneer Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton produced the original 1938 Library of Congress recordings. Considered the genre’s preeminent musician-historian, Morton’s talented piano playing and arranging made him a perceptive interpreter of jazz music. These invaluable recordings of Morton’s performance and oral history, made from the stage of the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium,

recreated the styles of many of Morton’s turn-of-the-century jazz contemporaries, giving Lomax what amounted to the first oral history of jazz. Although many of the recordings of Morton’s piano playing have been released before, the deluxe box-set created by Rounder Records is the first-ever uncut, unexpurgated, chronologically sequenced edition comprising music, song and speech.

In 2004 the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic documentations collected by the legendary folklorist. Attention was focused on the Morton recordings during the symposium "The Lomax Legacy: Folklore in a Globalizing Century," hosted by the AFC, Jan. 18-20, 2006. John Szwed and pianist Dave Burrell gave a presentation about Lomax’s recordings of Morton, with particular attention to the music. Wood and Greenberg also made presentations during the symposium.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information visit the Center’s Web site at www.loc.gov/folklife/.

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PR 06-040
02/14/06
ISSN 0731-3527

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