Composed by Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton
Transcribed and Arranged for Wind Quintet by Don Stewart
Published by Trillenium Music Company
Includes score and parts
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in A, Horn in F, and Bassoon
Morton thought highly of “The Pearls”, which was written in Los Angeles about 1917 and published in a rather simplified version in 1923. It is a somewhat larger-scaled work than many of Morton's published pieces, and bears some resemblance, formally, to the marches of Sousa and others so popular early in this century. He recorded “The Pearls” on several occasions, and of course no two versions are alike. One of Morton's esthetic touchstones was improvisation; he thought that each time a piece was played it should be 'new', although he also believed that melody should always be present. He described this work as one of his most difficult compositions to perform.
This version was made for the Boehm Quintette in about 1982, and was performed often in the mid-80's. It certainly works well on a program of American music. The various solo 'breaks' could of course be altered, within the constraints of the style. During his lifetime the instrinsic merit of Morton's work was not recognized. Now, his true value as the first important jazz composer has become accepted. His finest recordings were made with five and seven-piece groups. So perhaps the wind quintet is an appropriate medium for at least one of Jelly Roll's fine pieces.
– DS 1994