In 1915, “The ‘Jelly Roll’ Blues” was published by one Ferd Morton, a guy just about everyone knows as Jelly Roll. It was the first time somebody published a piece of jazz music, and it went to prove that a music whose very soul is improvisation can survive notation.
You can publish and not perish, in other words.
Morton’s piano playing was born of ragtime and he often played the melody with the thumb of his right hand, allowing him to play harmonies above the melody with all those fingers he had left over.
Here are two recordings of the song. The first is a solo piano recording of Morton, and probably dates to 1915.
Jelly Roll Blues – piano
And this second recording, featuring Morton’s band ‘The Red Hot Peppers,’ dates to 1924.