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Baby Dodds

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  • Born: New Orleans, LA
  • Died: Chicago, IL
  • Years Active: 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Arguably the first important jazz drummer, Baby Dodds was one of the earliest to vary his patterns during a performance; a strong example of his adventurous style can be heard on a trio performance (with Jelly Roll Morton and Baby's brother Johnny) of "Wolverine Blues" in 1927. A major influence on Gene Krupa, Dodds worked in New Orleans with Willie Hightower, Bunk Johnson, Oscar Celestin, and others and played with Fate Marable's riverboat band in 1918. He joined King Oliver in San Francisco in 1922 and settled in Chicago the following year. In addition to recording with Oliver's classic Creole Jazz Band, Dodds was an important part of sessions led by Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven. He remained in Chicago for decades, performing and recording regularly with his brother, Johnny Dodds, until the clarinetist's death in 1940. During the traditional jazz revival, Baby played with Jimmie Noone, Sidney Bechet, Bunk Johnson, and Art Hodes, appeared on the This Is Jazz radio broadcasts of 1947, and visited Europe with Mezz Mezzrow the following year. During 1945-1946, he recorded the first unaccompanied drum solos. Despite ill health in the 1950s, Baby Dodds kept playing until two years before his death; his memoirs are well worth reading.