Kansas Smitty’s: Plunderphonia 

The London collective take Jelly Roll Morton by the post-modern route while reminding how his original piano alone could charm


Plunderphonia is a collection of compositions written by New Orleans bandleader Jelly Roll Morton, chosen and reworked by Kansas Smitty’s bandleader, Giacomo Smith. The album also features pieces by other notable names including Bix Beiderbecke and Maurice Ravel. The themes and harmony from Morton’s work have undergone a 2021 makeover giving a contemporary twist to the original recordings.

Smith kicks off with a marching classic, High Society, and completely transforms its character entirely. Trumpeter Dylan Jones, formally of Ezra Collective, leads the next track, named Bump, whilst Inner Mist is a harmonically charged cover of Beiderbecke’s piano version.

If you’ve found yourself nearing the end of the album thinking this is just too post-modern, then rest assured; Plunderphonia closes with a direct piano solo called Pearls by Morton marking the brilliance and magic that can be brought by just the touch of a single instrument.

The music is skilfully arranged and performed to an extremely high calibre. Plunderphonia presents an interesting look at some of the popular work by one of jazz music’s pioneering pianists. The album was launched at the EFG London Jazz Festival in November, when Laura Jurd guested with the band.

High Society; Bump; Inner Mist; Blue River; Water Dance; Mamanita; Jungle Blues; Ganjam; Pearls (42.47)
Giacomo Smith (ss, as, bcl); Dylan Jones (t); Joe Webb (p, elp); Ferg Ireland (b); Jas Kayser (d). No location or dates listed, but c. 2021.
7K! 7K028CD