A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
One of the most fascinating things about Joe Morley is that, due to the fact that his carreer as a famous banjoist spanned about 50 years, he went through a number of musical fashions and styles, and his music adapted to suit them. His distinct style of Classic Banjo playing proved equally suited to ragtime, oriental foxtrot and jazz, as it was to the earlier forms of music he played. This runs contrary to the stereotypical view of Classic banjo peddled by many contemporary documentaries, which would divide banjo history into cut-and-dried "periods".
Shuffle Along was one of the great musical hits of the 1920s. The first all-black musical show, written and performed by African Americans, Shuffle Along embodied all things jazz and it was a smash hit when it premiered on May 23rd 1921. Even though there is no date on the Morley composition, it is very likely that he was inspired by the show to write this jazzy swing number in the 1920's. Everything points to the fact that this became one of his most popular numbers -- young William J. Ball recalled hearing him play it at the 1931 banjo rally, and the minutes of the London Banjo Club record it as one of the last pieces he performed in September, 1937, shortly before his death.
This solo is another example of Joe Morley's remarkable versatility as a banjoist and a composer, as well as the extreme adaptability of Classic Banjo as a playing style.
The success of this composition endures to this day, as it was also recently adapted for guitar by Richard Yates.
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