Thursday, January 25, 2007

the oddly angular and the baby...



a few years ago i found quite a few boxes of very heavy 78's at the rose bowl flea market, and spent several months listening to every side (about 800 records). most of the tracks were straght ahead jazz, and there were a lot of standouts; but there was also a lot of consistency. the two tracks here were part of that load; but stood out not for the playing (although i think it's pretty great) but from the relative emptiness of the recordings...

when a 78 label says sax or drum solo on it, it usually means the sax or drums are soloing over a group of other folks; but the drum solo by baby dodds here is unacompanied, and the sax solo by bud freeman is basically without a band (he's playing with just a drummer). there's something really special about the sound of an empty room evoking a kind of intimacy in these recordings that is profoundly human...

baby dodds is probably the most important pioneer of jazz drumming... period. brother of the other famous jazz playing dodds, johnny; baby played with three of the giants of jazz - king oliver, louis armstrong, and jellyroll morton. he was probably the first person ever to record a solo drum record in the jazz idiom.

bud freeman was born in chicago, but heavily influenced by new orleans pioneers like louis armstrong (i wonder if he ever played with or heard baby dodds?). he eventually moved to ny to work with such greats as eddie condon and joe venuti, and his style has been described as "oddly angular and consistently swinging".

atomic age, is freeman at his smoking best. i love the interplay of the skronky sax sound and the repetitive (almost meditative) rhythmic beat. baby dodd's drum improv no. 2, is simply "other"... standing outside of 99% of jazz recordings of the time like a wonderfully bad-ass of a sore thumb. these aren't mere talking drums, they're also whispering, dancing, and screaming!

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Blogger ZubZub said...

Now these are pretty fuggin special. Right on.

9:45 AM  

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