The Paul Asaro Trio play Jelly Roll Morton's "Tiger Rag"





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Published on Apr 3, 2007


"Tiger Rag," is a fun upbeat tune that Jelly Roll Morton claimed to have written.

The guys played this number, and many more at a Kansas City Ragtime Revelry Concert on April 1st, 2007.



A word or two about some of the confusion regarding the true composer of "Tiger Rag."

The tune was first recorded on 17 August, 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band for Aeolian-Vocalion Records. Did not sell very well, but their second recording of the tune on 25 March, 1918 for Victor Records, on the other hand, was a smash national hit.

It was credited to O.D.J.B. members Nick La Rocca, Eddie Edwards, Henry Ragas, Tony Sbarbaro, and Larry Shields, along with Harry Da Costa.

However, other New Orleans, Louisiana musicians claimed that the tune had been a standard in the city even before. Some others even copyrighted the same melody or close variations on it under their own names, including Ray Lopez under the title "Weary Weasel" and Johnny DeDroit under the title "Number Two Blues".

A number of veterans of Papa Jack Laine's band said the tune had been known in New Orleans as "Number Two" long before the O.D.J.B. copyrighted it. In one interview, Papa Jack Laine said that the actual composer of the number was Achille Baquet.

Punch Miller claimed to have originated the cornet & trombone breaks with Jack Carey, and that from Carey's characteristic growl many locals called the tune "Play Jack Carey".

Jelly Roll Morton also claimed to have written the tune, basing part of it on his jazzed up version of an old French quadrille.

While the exact details are unclear, it seems that at least something similar to Tiger Rag or various strains of it was played in New Orleans before the Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded it. How close these were to the O.D.J.B.'s recording is a matter of speculation.

The O.D.J.B.'s record seems to have helped solidify a standard a version or head arrangement of the number. Curiously, however, one strain in the O.D.J.B. recordings (just before the famous "hold that tiger" chorus) is almost invariably left out of later recordings and performances of the number.


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