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100 Jazz Profiles
Johnny Dodds
1892 - 1940
Clarinettist. With a throbbing, bluesy tone, and great expressive feeling in his sound, Dodds was a supreme exponent of early New Orleans clarinet playing, and was a member of some of the finest ensembles of the classic jazz period of the 1920s. He took up clarinet in his home town of New Orleans in his late teens, and worked with Kid Ory and riverboat bandleader Fate Marable before joining King Oliver in 1919.

With Oliver he worked in Chicago
and California, before returning to Chicago as a member of Oliver's Creole Jazz Band which also included Louis Armstrong. He eventually left OIiver to spend some years working with Freddie Keppard at Kelly's Stables, but all the while he recorded proliofically, and his best work is in his discs with Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and his younger brother, drummer Baby Dodds (1989-1959).

He also appeared on various anonymous sessions
, of which the finest are by the New Orleans Wanderers, including his famous Perdido Street Blues. He continued to lead a band in Chicago during the 1930s, and although the days of classic jazz were over, he made some fine discs in 1938 with Charlie Shavers and members of bassist John Kirby's band, as well as a last session with several old New Orleans colleagues in June 1940, just two months before his death.

Further Reading:

Eddie Lambert: Johnny Dodds (London, Cassell) 1962

Recommended CD:

Blue Clarinet Stomp (RCA Bluebird ND 82293)
Suggested Track: Blue Clarinet Stomp No. 1

Website links:

Johnny Dodds
Short biography, good recordings list and other links.

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