From the Record Shelves #177

Creole Blues


Today it’s the other Dodds, the brother of Johnny, who is in focus. Warren “Baby” Dodds, six years younger than Johnny, had a tough beginning. When he had learned to play drums and wanted to sit in with the big brother’s band for the first time, the musicians left the stage one after the other, leaving him alone in an embarrassing state. But Baby managed to come over this and play on, his highest achievement being to play with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. After going along with his brother to further engagements in the 1920s and 1930s, he also became involved in New Orleans revival music.

The LP is a compilation of basically two recording sessions from 1946 and 1947 for Circle Records. The enthusiastic founders of the company, Rudy Blesh and Harriet Janis, are good writers and have both contributed extensive liner notes: Blesh about the history of Circle Records and Janis about the history of these Creole songs.

When Baby Dodds played in New York at Stuyvesant Casino with Bunk Johnson’s band in 1946, he was staying with Blesh, who was impressed that he brought the whole drum set back and forth every night. “The greatest jazz drummer of all time, then forty-eight years old, sideman of King Oliver, Satchmo, and Jelly Roll, still practiced like an earnest student every day!”

In fact, it was when they heard Baby doing some drum improvisations after the gig at the casino that they decided to record it and start a company. Circle produced many important sessions in the years to come until 1952.

Today I leave the comments on the music to you.