Black Bottom Stomp - Structure


John Szwed notes that in "Black Bottom Stomp," "Morton practiced what he preached, managing to incorporate in one short piece the 'Spanish tinge,' stomps, breaks, stoptime, backbeat, two-beat, four-beat, a complete suspension of the rhythm section during the piano solo, riffs, rich variations of melody, and dynamics of volume, all of the elements of jazz as he understood it."

  1. Intro: B♭ major, 8 bars, full ensemble
  2. A section in B♭. Three 16 bar choruses: (i) full ensemble; (ii) trumpet calls with ensemble response; (iii) clarinet solo
  3. Interlude: 4 bars, for full ensemble
  4. B section in E♭: Seven 20 bar choruses: (i) Full ensemble with trumpet and trombone break; (ii) clarinet solo (iii) piano solo; (iv) trumpet solo stop-time chorus; (v) banjo solo; (vi) full ensemble with drum break; (vii) full ensemble with trombone break
  5. Coda in E♭ for full ensemble

The harmonic basis is relatively simple, using standard II - V - I progressions. During the A section chorus, the chord progression passes through the relative minor.

With only seven instruments in the ensemble, Morton produces five distinct textures:

  1. trumpet and rhythm section
  2. clarinet
  3. banjo and rhythm section
  4. clarinet and rhythm section
  5. piano solo

The piece displays traits of Morton's compositional style:

  • built-in breaks
  • stop-time phrases
  • rhythmically lively themes
  • frequent contrasts of sustained semibreve phrases with syncopated semibreve patterns
  • a stomping "trio" section

Some distinct rhythmic features of New Orleans jazz appear throughout:

  • 2-beat mixed with 4-beat time
  • stop-time
  • Charleston rhythm

Read more about this topic:  Black Bottom Stomp

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