While Armand Piron's Orchestra was at the same time playing sophisticated, genteel jazz, Morgan's style was just a little more gutzy, pulsating and robust, though still melodic. The band took great care with establishing and maintaining the right tempos - notably for dancing.
|That's Sam seated behind the cymbal; with big Jim Robinson and his trombone.|
Today Sam Morgan is best remembered for the eight tunes his band recorded in New Orleans over two sessions in 1927. Three of these were spirituals (Over in the Gloryland, Down By The Riverside and Sing On); but the credited composer for all the other five was Sam himself:
Mobile Stomp, though in 4/4 time, is said to use the melody of The Waltz You Saved For Me; and indeed the two melodies are almost identical. But according to my researches so far, it seems The Waltz You Saved for Me was composed in 1930 - after Mobile Stomp, so it is probably unfair to suggest that Morgan 'lifted' his tune from the song.
Most traditional jazz bands in the 21st Century not only show influences of the Sam Morgan Band in their playing and musical arrangements but also still have at least a couple of Morgan's tunes in their repertoire.
And the fact that the Morgan Band recorded the three spirituals seems to have set the precedent that traditional jazz bands must now include spirituals in their programmes. (It is believed the band would never have played spirituals for dances but recorded some only because the recording engineer requested them.) Similarly, the band demonstrated (as in Mobile Stomp) - I think for one of the first times on record - the excitement generated when you play stop-time choruses.
So we all owe a great deal to Sam Morgan. And we are also indebted to Jim Robinson who, in later years, revived and perpetuated his music, and also made us aware of other tunes Morgan's band liked to play. (See the comments from John Dixon below).
|Sam Morgan's House in New Orleans|
The book Enjoying Traditional Jazz by Pops Coffee is available from Amazon.