TITLE: JELLY'S LAST JAM
AUTHOR: MUSIC BY JELLY ROLL MORTON; LYRICS BY SUSAN BIRKENHEAD; BOOK BY GEORGE C. WOLFE
THE BOTTOM LINE: Dancer-singer-actor Gregory Hines redeems a muddled attempt to liberate the black musical.
The phrase "black musical" usually means either a gospel rafter-rattler or a nightclub evening of raunch and funk, typically highlighted by frenzied tap dancers and some enormous female singer with a voice like a howitzer. There have been exceptions that accorded blacks roles of dignity and depth (the richest emotionally, Dreamgirls, ironically was crafted by whites). But the norm is jumping and jiving, as in...