Warren Baby Dodds
Though Baby Dodds" main body of work took place in the 1920s with Louis Armstrong and other New Orleans groups, he remains one of the most influential drummers who ever lived. He was a favorite and an inspiration to generations of percussionists, from Gene Krupa to Max Roach. - Dr. Bruce H. Klauber
Baby Dodds was one of first great drummers of Jazz and the brother of Johnny Dodds. Baby got his start playing in parades in New Orleans, occasionally with Frankie Dusen"s Eagle Band. He played briefly with his brother in Kid Ory"s Band, but was embarrassed when all the musicians walked off stage because of his poor playing. This incident spurred him on to become a better musician. He played in several other bands in New Orleans before joining Fate Marable"s riverboat band in 1918. While working on the riverboat he played with Louis Armstrong, Johnny St. Cyr, Pops Foster, among others. He stayed in Marable"s band until King Oliver asked him to join his band in San Francisco in 1921. Dodds followed Oliver to Chicago and was the drummer in King Oliver"s Creole Jazz Band. After the breakup of that band Dodds worked with Honore Dutrey at the Dreamland in Chicago and with several other bands in the city.
From 1927 to 1929 Baby Dodds played in his brothers" band at Kelly"s Stables along with Freddie Keppard. He was the drummer on many of the classic Chicago Jazz recordings of Jelly Roll Morton"s Red Hot Peppers and Louis Armstrong"s Hot Seven. Throughout the Depression, Baby played in many of the small groups led by his brother Johnny Dodds and helped run a taxi cab company in Chicago. When his brother died in 1940, he went on to play with Jimmy Noone, and with Bunk Johnson. After 1949 Dodds had a series of strokes that left him partially paralyzed, but still managed to play from time to time up until his dea
Despite his continuing importance and influence, Dodds" discography just isn"t that long, if only because his most important work came so early in the history of recorded jazz. Thankfully, Dodds" famed "talking and drum solos" recordings originally done for the Folkways label in 1951 have been issued on CD on "Baby Dodds" (American Music label), fleshed out by a session he recorded with Bunk Johnson in the mid-1940s. Dodds first recordings were made in 1923 with King Oliver in Chicago, where Dodds remained for the next 20 years. Some of those tracks can be heard on "King Oliver"s Creole Jazz Band 1923-1924" (a two-CD set on the Retrieval label).
His pioneering work with Louis Armstrong, though Dodds is not on every track, is out on Armstrong"s 1925 to 1928 "Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, Volumes One-Three" (Columbia label). Dodds is also on some cuts with Jelly Roll Morton, with whom he played in 1927, on "The Jelly Roll Morton Centennial: His Complete Victor Recordings" (a five-CD set on the RCA label). Collectors may find some under-the-counter Dodds stuff on the market from various radio broadcasts from 1947 with a number of traditional groups, and/or airshots from a Europeon tour he made with Mezz Mezzrow in 1948.