The Pearls-deParis

bob erwig

by bob erwig

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Pearls The De Paris 1960

Wilbur De Paris and his New New Orleans Jazz Band at the Juan les Pins jazz festival in France on July 10 1960.
One of Jelly Roll Morton's most famous compositions is a tune called "the Pearls." Jelly recorded it first as a piano piece in 1923 and the more famous recording was in June 1927 with his Red Hot Peppers.
Wilbur De Paris lived next to Jelly Roll Morton in the twenties and knew him well. Wilbur claims that "the Pearls" should be played much slower than on Jelly's 1927 recording. All revival bands more or less copy this Jelly tempo. Wilbur mentioned that Jelly had to record the tune faster to fit it on the approximately three minute maximum time available on a 78 rpm record.
I checked this out. Jelly's 1927 recording is at a tempo of 144 BPM (beats per minute) and lasts 3.24 minutes. Here, the movie clip of De Paris lasts 5.27 minutes and is at a tempo of 90 BPM. If Jelly would have been able to have enough recording space his arrangement would have lasted 5.25 minutes as well. He had to play it 1.6 times faster in 1927 to fit the 78 record.
Even though De Paris' arrangement was maybe a bit different from Jelly's--I did not check that--could it be coincidence or did Wilbur intuitively know about the original tempo?