Warren "Baby" Dodds, father of American drumming
March 22, 2010 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Back in the 1920s, when Warren "Baby" Dodds was busy inventing jazz drumming in the company of pioneers like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, to "give the drummer some" usually never meant more than a couple of bars fill every now and again. Fortunately, though, come 1946, when Dodds was already an older man but still in fine playing form, someone had the wherewithal to record this seminal percussion stylist in a series of extended drum solos, displaying his exuberant rhythmic stylings as well as his lending of superbly playful swing to the the rudiments. But let's jump back to the 20's again, and hear drummer Dodds, with the aforementioned King Oliver, take what's gotta be the killingest slide whistle solo in all of jazz history.

One more thing: here's a clip of Baby Dodds playing a floor tom solo over "Tea for Two" on piano. Here Dodds employed an innovative technique: he changes the pitch of the drum by using his foot, harkening back to the tradition of the talking drums of Nigeria and Ghana. Too bad for us that there was inadequate microphone placement and recording technique employed, though, for here we get little to no actual audible pitch differentiation. Nonetheless, this little clip is an important historical document, testament to the remarkable creativity and what some would term "African retentions" in African-American musicianship.
posted by flapjax at midnite (11 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I used to scoff at the notion that drum machines had no soul, assuming naively that you could program a drum machine to do anything a human drummer could do. But thanks to you, flapjax, I realize there's so much soul in some drummers that computers don't have a chance. Again and always, thanks for the music (lessons)!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on March 22, 2010

Man, you need a title as the Dean of MeFi Music. Awesome, as always.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:41 AM on March 22, 2010

Baby Dodds was as great at the drums as his brother was at the clarinet - and that's really, really good. Still, I have to admit that I prefer Zutty Singleton – and not least because he's on my favorite record of all time, a 1954 recording of him, Lil Hardin (ex-Armstrong), and Sidney Bechet in Paris.

I wish it was somewhere on the internet, but I don't know – I know I've managed to find two old copies on vinyl, and keep one stashed so that I still have a playable disc of it when I get old. That version of "Ol' Rockin' Chair" gets me every damned time, and Zutty's drumming on "Black Bottom" is sublime.

Anyway... thanks for the post, flapjax. Awesome stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2010

The slide whistle solo was great, that made my morning.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 8:12 AM on March 22, 2010

kudos for reminding the MeFi universe of the amazing Baby Dodds, flapjax. Can I favorite this post about a 1000 times?
posted by beelzbubba at 8:28 AM on March 22, 2010

filthy light thief: "I used to scoff at the notion that drum machines had no soul"

One of these days I am going to do a "satanist" dance/industrial side project, just so I can put that sticker on my drum machine.
posted by idiopath at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, Baby Dodds played some nice, subtle drums on one of my very favorite sides ever: the recording of Bechet's "Blues In Thirds" from 1940, which featured the absolutely brilliant trio of Sidney Bechet, Earl Hines, and Baby Dodds. A laid-back, gorgeous stroll through paradise, that track is.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2010

Fl A M: Supoib. The youth need some history.
posted by Jode at 10:02 AM on March 22, 2010

Thanks flapjax, for bringing back some of the stuff of legends. Great music.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:27 AM on March 22, 2010

Absolutely one of the greatest. Thanks!
posted by Wolof at 3:49 PM on March 22, 2010

Hey, a JAZZ DRUM FREAKOUT!!!! Hooray! Pardon my tardiness to this party, just chiming in to say what a great post this is.
posted by snsranch at 3:57 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older "Kevin, you look beautiful."   |   110100100 Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments