The banjo has a significant presence in Jelly Roll Morton’s “Black Bottom Stomp.” From the first 30 seconds of the song, the banjo plays a distinct solo, accompanied by a rhythm section. This solo is played in a style known as “strumming,” which is a technique wherein the musician plays a series of notes, often two or three, rapidly.
The song, written by Jelly Roll Morton in 1925, has been described as a “jazz classic.” Morton combined the elements of ragtime and blues to create this unique tune. The tune is composed of three A choruses and one B chorus, with a two-bar tag. The A and B choruses follow a two-part structure: the first eight bars are a call-and-response between the trumpet and rhythm section, while the second eight bars feature an improvisation from Omer Simeon’s clarinet.
In the first 30 seconds of the song, the banjo plays a solo. This is the only time during the tune that the banjo plays a solo. The solo is performed by Johnny St. Cyr, who was known for his intricate and precise banjo playing. While the solo is very short, it is full of energy and showcases the bright, upbeat tone of the banjo.
The banjo solo in “Black Bottom Stomp” is an integral part of the song and helps to create its vibrant, jazzy atmosphere. The banjo can be heard throughout the piece, providing accompaniment to the trumpet and clarinet solos. It is a testament to the skill of its performers that so much music can be created in only 30 seconds.