From the Record Shelves #140

Too Tight


Even if the main ingredient is missing, there is a lot of King Oliver connections in this band that played at Kelly’s Stable in Chicago and recorded for Victor in 1929. Five of the six musicians were members of King Oliver’s groundbreaking Creole Jazz Band. Johnny Dodds, clarinet was appointed leader after that Freddie Keppard on cornet was fired. He was replaced by another cornet player from New Orleans, Natty Dominique.

When I hear Johnny Dodds here I find it quite unbelievable that I have read complaints about him from “jazz experts”. He is well backed up by his brother Baby Dodds on drums and Lil Hardin on piano. After him comes Honoré Dutrey with a nice trombone solo and then there is a break by Bill Johnson who at this time in the recording technique history can use his “bull fiddle” his bass violin and get well recorded. When the classic sides with Oliver were made in 1923 he was forced to change instrument to play banjo because the bass was too difficult to pick up in the studio.

Natty Dominique who is composer of the tune has said that once when he happened to pass Freddie Keppard the latter remarked that he would never be a good musician. I think that he does a good job here, sounds a little too clumsy sometimes to be called “great” but it works, and his phrasing is varied and the feeling just right.

In any case Johnny Dodds is the star of the band.