Happy Halloween.  Halloween is an easy post for The Eclectic Ear.  There is a wealth of songs for the choosing.  I’ve chosen five to get your trick or treatin’ off to a rockin’ start.  So crank it up all you boys and ghouls!

I’ve stayed away from the classics like “Monster Mash” and “Werewolves of London” as they’re somewhat overdone (and covered here in the past).  Here are a few you may not be as familiar with…

“Dracula” – Desmond Dekker
I have only one DD album and that’s only because he wrote and recorded the pop classic “The Israelites”. This came with the release and it’s clearly Des having a lot of fun. “Believe me folks, she was fabulous!”

“Halloween Parade” – Lou Reed
I miss Lou Reed and his “New York” album is a must have for any fan. Honest lyrics and basic rock n’ roll that captures the feel of the West Village tradition perfectly. A good song about celebrating even when you miss somebody.

“Fairies Wear Boots” – Widespread Panic
A classic originally from Black Sabbath, I almost offered a folkie version by Bill Patton (a relatively unknown mid-2006 indie artist) but decided to go with Panic’s cover.  WP does great covers and this is no exception. Jimmy Herring absolutely tears it up in a fusion assault not seen by Sabbath fans.

Put Your Cat Clothes On” – Carl Perkins
Carl was of course most famous for not wanting his blue suede shoes stepped on but he does a pretty good job on this Halloween costume suggestion from 1957.

“Is There a Ghost” – Band of Horses
BoH is up at the top of my most-under-appreciated bands of the early 21st century. This track from their 2007 effort “Cease To Begin” is beyond great.










I came across “Darkness, Darkness” recently as a cover by Richard Shindell. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard the original Youngbloods version but it brought back some pleasant memories and I thought I’d offer it here.  If you haven’t heard it before you’re in for a treat.  Although it contains the classic harmonies The Youngbloods were known for, the song displays Jesse Colin Young’s song writing talents.

The guitar solo in The Youngbloods version is well worth the listen.  Some incredibly sweet electric tone going on there from Banana (aka Lowell Levinger)… or does Jesse or Jerry Corbitt handle that here?










Jesse around 1973

Written in 1969, the violin intro is by Charlie Daniels.  It appeared on The Youngbloods album “Elephant Mountain”. and was a single that was released twice.  It has also been covered by a long list of fairly diverse artists including Robert Plant, Mott the Hoople, Eric Burdon, and Cowboy Junkies.  Among this lot Plant’s version is top of the list. Probably because he’s….well he’s Robert Plant!

[Trivia Alert:  Jesse is a Queens, NY native.  Born Perry Miller he attended 4th grade with Art Garfunkel.]

Darkness, Darkness by Jesse Colin Young

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow
Take my head and let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow
In the silence of your deep

Darkness, darkness, hide my yearning
For the things I cannot be
Keep my mind from constant turning
Toward the things I cannot see now
Things I cannot see now
Things I cannot see

Darkness, darkness, long and lonesome
Ease the day that brings me pain
I have felt the edge of sadness
I have known the depth of fear

Darkness, darkness, be my blanket
Cover me with the endless night
Take away, take away the pain of knowing
Fill the emptiness of right now
Emptiness of right now, now, now
Emptiness of right now


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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m confused by Leonard Cohen.  Every time I read critical press that touts him as one of the 20th Century’s greatest living composers I scratch my head and find that I’m not sure that I agree.  I listen to “Suzanne” or his signature tune “Bird on the Wire” and sort of feel that I must be missing something.  I’m very open-minded when it comes to music. Maybe it’ just not for my ear (no matter how eclectic I may think myself to be). Maybe I’m just not melancholy enough.

But then I hear a song like “Hallelujah”. I hear Jeff Buckley or Renee Fleming presenting it in way that gives me a chill and some goosebumps and I’m just stunned. How can this be so good?  Perhaps I’m just destined to create my own LC mix tape.

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And just when I started to think I had found the one-off tune that Leonard wrote I find one that blows me away even more.  There’s something here.  Something indescribable that hits home and leaves you a bit shaken.  In this case it’s “Song of Bernadette”.  Covered by Jennifer Warnes on her 1987 release “Famous Blue Raincoat” the song is another stunning effort by Cohen and Jennifer does it justice.  Although her more famous mega-hit duets with the late Joe Cocker, “Up Where We Belong”, for the movie Officer and a Gentleman  and her equally mega-famous “The Time of My Life” with Bill Medley for Dirty Dancing made her a household name, “Song of Bernadette” just blows them  out of the water.

Perhaps only Cohen could take a story about a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous, in the mid-19th century claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary on several occasions in Lourdes, France (she was canonized by the Catholic Church and proclaimed Saint Bernadette after her death) and connect it to to the struggles of modern life in a seamless way.

He captures that sentiment in lyric…..

There was a child named Bernadette
I heard the story long ago
She saw the Queen of Heaven once
And kept the vision in her soul
No one believed what she had seen
No one believed what she heard
But there were sorrows to be healed
And mercy, mercy in this world

So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we’ve done and can’t undo
I just want to hold you, come on let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do

We’ve been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we’ve done
Tonight, tonight I just can’t rest
I’ve got this joy inside my breast
To think that I did not forget that child
That song of Bernadette

So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we’ve done and can’t undo
I just want to hold you, won’t let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do
I just want to hold you, come on let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do





















Among my favorite jazz albums is this 1954 accurately titled release from legend Benny Carter “Benny Carter Plays Pretty” (GLP 3539).

Born in the then San Juan Hill section of Manhattan (today the area around Lincoln Center), Carter dominated the jazz scene for decades with his expressive, soulful style that still gives me goose bumps.  Widely respected by his peers, Carter was nicknamed “King” in deference to his complete command of the alto sax while equally proficient on clarinet and trumpet or as a bandleader.  When Billie Holiday wowed the crowds at The Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958, she made sure it was Benny on alto sax backing her up (it no doubt helped that she also had Gerry Mulligan coaxing some melody out of the bari sax and Mal Waldron at the piano).










But back to the mid-1954 release of Benny Carter Plays Pretty on Norgran Records.  Information about this album is scarce but I was able to dig up that Benny was supported here by Don Abney on piano, George Duvivier on bass, and Louis Bellson behind the drums and the album was recorded partially in Los Angeles and Fine Recording Studios in New York.  I’m not sure why but this terrific album does not get much notice in the Carter histories or discographies.  Perhaps it’s eclipsed by his more famous recordings and work with others but it does stay high on my list.

Like Ben Webster and Gene Ammons, Carter plays straight up jazz here without a lot of flourishes or extra color. His timing is impeccable and he plays perfectly against Abney’s piano voicings.   His selection of standards is also a well-chosen group that highlights Carter’s skills to the max. I’ve included “Moonglow”, “This Can’t Be Love” and “Laura” here as representative samples.









A 2012 re-release of the album includes two additional bonus tracks “Street Scene” and “The Moon Is Low”.  Both are early 78 RPM track recordings and I assume they include different personnel than the quartet above.












1955 was a year of mixed emotion in the jazz world.  March 12th of that year saw the death of jazz legend Charlie Parker in The Stanhope Hotel in NYC at the young age of 34 (the on scene coroner, upon seeing Parker’s condition guessed the deceased age as being between 50 and 60) but later that year, jazz fans were treated to a blistering performance by Miles Davis at The Newport Jazz Festival with a performance that landed him a contract with Columbia Records (thanks to George Avakian).  The lineup for his performance included John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones and was the basis for what came to be known as Miles’ “First Great Quintet,”,  The debut album on Columbia was “’Round About Midnight” and, for me, one of Miles’ greatest recordings.









From the Wikipedia entry on Miles at the time of the Newport Festival in 1955.

“With the new formation also came a new recording contract. In Newport, Rhode Island, Davis had met Columbia Records producer George Avakian, who persuaded him to sign with his label. The quintet made its debut on record with the extremely well received ‘Round About Midnight. Before leaving Prestige, however, Davis had to fulfill his obligations during two days of recording sessions in 1956. Prestige released these recordings in the following years as four albums: Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, and Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet. While the recording took place in a studio, each record of this series has the structure and feel of a live performance, with several first takes on each album. The records became almost instant classics and were instrumental in establishing Davis’ quintet as one of the best on the jazz scene.”












I’ve had to take some liberties with the video clips as these are Miles at Newport but not necessarily the Qunitet. The time period is right but I haven’t located any film of the cited performances.






 I’ve been reading Luc Sante’s “Low Life” and the above quote rang so true that I had to present it here.  Some digging in the music archive unearthed a pop archaeology classic and two of its famous covers.  “Night Time” or “Night Time is the Right Time” was originally recorded in its current R&B form by Nappy Brown in 1957 and later covered to great success by Ray Charles and James Brown.  It was derived directly from an earlier blues recording by Roosevelt “The Honey Dripper” Sykes from 1937 (Decca 7324).  The earlier versions have slightly different lyrics but the theme and chorus ring true here.   All 4 versions are provided below for your comparison.


“Now I want you to tell me, mama after I sing this song
Can I take you with me tonight darlin’, and hold you in my arms
Because night time is the right time, to be with the one you love, with the one you love.”

The song is very similar to tune by Leon Carr title “When The Sun Goes Down”. It was a huge hot in its time and was the model for “Love In Vain” by Robert Johnson.

Ray Charles entered a recording studio in October 1958 to lay down this track.

According to Brown, “The difference between me and Ray Charles’s ‘Night Time Is the Right Time’ … is he had it up-tempo with Mary Ann and them behind him—the ladies [Charles’ female backup singers, the Raelettes]. I had mine in a slow tempo with a gospel group behind me. That was my gospel group. But he got everything just like mine, note for note”.














Although the summer of 2015 isn’t quite over yet, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of it for many.  There are a lot of summer songs out there but this is one classic from The Beach Boys that doesn’t seem to get enough respect despite its brilliance.


Found on their 1973 album Holland, the tune was written by Brian Wilson, Ray Kennedy, Tandyn Almer, Jack Riley, and Van Dyke Parks. It was originally released as a single with the the B-side “Only With You” and didn’t make ti very far up the charts before peaking at #79.

From my perspective, although the song has all the hallmark harmonies of Brian Wilson, the added touch of Van Dyke Parks (a longtime Wilson collaborator) really makes the difference.

Brian was later quoted as saying “”Van Dyke really inspired this one. We worked on it originally; then, the other collaborators contributed some different lyrics. By the time the Beach Boys recorded it, the lyrics were all over the place. But I love how this song rocks.”.

Some trivia here.. background vocalists included Gerry Beckley (of the band America) and Billy Hinsche (of the pop group Dino, Desi & Billy).















Columbia Records Recording Studio – 207 East 30th Street – note the Empire State Building in the background left.

I’ve been wanting to post something about Columbia Records old recording studio on 30th Street for quite a while.  As a real estate guy based in New York, and as a music lover who grew up about 65 blocks (3 miles) from here, I find myself fascinated by what I like to call the “history of place”. Although the building has long since been demolished (in 1985) imagine the sounds that were created there. Perhaps the residents of the high-rise apartment building (The Wilshire) that is now on the site hear the ghostly echoes of Thelonious Monk or Miles Davis or Lenny Bernstein.

The studio was nicknamed “The Church” and was operated by Columbia Records for 33 years from 1948 to 1981. It was highly regarded as one of the best sounding rooms every used for recording.  Every genre of music was recorded there including some of the greatest jazz ever recorded.  Mile Davis recorded his master work Kind of Blue there in 1959.  Ellington recorded “Masterpieces” there the same year.  Bernstein’s West Side Story was recorded there as well as albums by classical pianist Glenn Gould, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Pink Floyd.


The Console Room at 30th Street during the Glenn Gould Goldberg Variations sessions.

The original building was designed by architect J. Cleveland Cady, and was dedicated on March 28, 1875 as the Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church.  It hosted a number of different congregations over the years and even was the home of radio station WLIB in the mid-to-late ’40’s.  It sat vacant and unused for years until Columbia Records built the recording studio there.  As you can see from the photo above, it was very much a working hodgepodge of gear.  Not at all a sleek place like today’s studios.

The main studio had 100 foot high ceilings, and 10,000 square foot floor space for the recording area.  The control room was a tiny 8′ by 14′, box on the second floor that was later moved downstairs.

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On the classical front, Glenn Gould recorded his now iconic Goldberg Variations for his 1955 debut album.  Vladimir Horowitz recorded his entire Masterworks releases at 30th Street.  The list goes on to include Rudolf Serkin, Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky and Bruno Walter.





Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded almost exclusively at the 30th Street Studio during his years under contract to Columbia, including his album Kind of Blue (1959). Other noteworthy jazz musicians having recorded in this place include Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Dave Brubeck.







In 1964, Bob Dylan and record producer Tom Wilson were experimenting with their own fusion of rock and folk music. The first unsuccessful test involved overdubbing a “Fats Domino early rock & roll thing” over Dylan’s earlier, recording of “House of the Rising Sun”, using non-electric instruments, according to Wilson. This took place in the Columbia 30th Street Studio in December 1964.




Photo: William Gottlieb

Bunty Pendleton (1914 – 1995)

Does this woman look happy?  You bet she does.  She’s jamming on jazz piano at “Riverboat on the Hudson” in 1947.  Try to picture the scene. The war is over, men and women are returning home to big band sound that’s morphing into be-bop and straight up jazz.  The boat is packed.  The bandstand (which looks to be jammed in between tables with the piano piled high with coats) has Marty Marsala, Albert Nicholas and none other than Baby Dodds behind the drums.


Photo: William Gottlieb

With another nod to Bob Brainen over at WFMU for including this gem on his 2015 DJ Premium compilation, I’ve recently heard the one (known) recording that Bunty committed to tape, the Hal David and Lou Ricca composition “Horizontal”.  Recorded by Bunty in 1946 with The Pat Flowers Group, reportedly the intention of the song was a nod to the returning GI’s wanting to recline and take it easy after the war, the double-entendre of the lyrics (“I just want to be horizontal…”) caused it to be banned – needless to add that it was, of course, first banned in Boston.

I’ve been doing some research on Bunty and haven’t found very much yet (but the search does continue).  Apparently born in Maine on March 23, 1914, and later married Bob Sylvester, the music critic for The Daily News, Bunty’s life is a bit of a mystery.

The 1940 Federal Census showed her to be living with a Villa Pendleton who was born around 1887 – presumably her mother (or perhaps an aunt) at an address in the 12th Assembly District (the east side of Manhattan in midtown),

I’ve found a few press references including a March 6, 1947 note by columnist Dorothy KiIgallen that said Bunty was tickling the ivory doing Gershwin sets at Jimmy Ryan’s East Side.  A restaurant review by columnist, Robert Dana, in Billboard from April 6, 1943 recommended a steak place called The Embers located at 161 East 54th Street,, where you could dine early and hear Bunty play “soft jazz” through dinner. I read a less  substantiated piece that noted she played regularly at the St. Regis which is entirely possible.


The Embers, 161 East 54th Street, NYC – 1953

She died on October 15, 1995 at the age of 81 in Far Rockaway, NYC.

I found one interesting reference post on a jazz site from a guy who claims he has a recording of four demos made by Bunty that have never been released.

I have only one final comment, “Watson, unleash the hounds!”




Jerry – July 3, 1995

I’ve officially given up trying to slow the passage of time.  It doesn’t work and, quite frankly, if you go along with “time flies when you’re having fun”, then I have to take hope that it’s whizzing past at an incredible while I’m slipping a Jerry disc into a CD player. Jerry’s been dead twenty years and just as I can still remember where I was when I heard the “breaking news”, I don’t miss him any less.

Although the Grateful Dead have never been far from my stereo or iPod over the last 40 years or so, it’s more or less always been about Jerry.  The “benevolent Buddha”, Captain Trips, who the New York Times acknowledged played with “his heart more than his hands”, was the heart of The Grateful Dead.  Jerry, in his wisdom, once compared Dead fans as being like people who like licorice – not everyone likes licorice, but the people who do like licorice – really like licorice.  A good analogy but it equally applies to Jerry too.


In my music collection I have a long list (numbering in the hundreds) of Grateful Dead concert recordings and a growing list of Jerry’s voluminous solo works.  They’re not all gems, believe me, but they are the soundtrack to his life. There was no end to his exploration of music and sound and ultimately, for me, that’s the draw.   Writing in Rolling Stone magazine, Carlos Santana once wrote (about Jerry)….

“Most people who play the blues are very conservative. They stay a certain way. Jerry Garcia was painting outside the frame. He played blues but mixed it with bluegrass and Ravi Shankar. He had country and Spanish in there. There was a lot of Chet Atkins in him – going up and down the frets. But you could always hear a theme in his playing. … Jerry was the sun of the Grateful Dead – the music they played was like planets orbiting around him.”

I’ve included one of my favorite Dead songs, “Ripple” from the classic “American Beauty” album.  Beautiful lyrics and music here.  I’ve also added one of the solo tracks Jerry did with the mandolinist David Grisman, and finally, take a listen to what Jerry does with The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”.


“There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.”

From “Ripple” (Garcia, Hunter)



Tomorrow is Jerry’s birthday. He would have been 73.  I’m re-posting my tribute to him from a few years ago.  I’ve also prepared a new post that is scheduled to be released on the 20th anniversary of his death on August 10th.  Enjoy….

Happy Birthday – Jerry Garcia (1942 – 1995).


Another tip of the hat to Bob Brainen over at WFMU-FM in Jersey City for introducing me to this amazing recording.

I picked up this two-disc, 34-track compilation of Aretha Franklin’s rare and unreleased recordings at my local public library on the basis of hearing a few tracks on Brainen’s show. Released in 2007, it’s absolutely stunning.  And these are the demos and outtakes!

Correctly titled as Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul, the compilation reflects songs recorded by Aretha for Atlantic Records between 1966 and 1973.  The man behind Aretha’s sound, the late Jerry Wexler, penned the liner notes (along with AF biographer David Ritz) for the compilation and they picked up a Grammy nomination for their efforts.  Unfortunately, my library copy didn’t include the notes but the search continues!


I’ve included a few of my favorite tracks below.  This isn’t just great singing – this is the kind of singing that gives you a little chill up your spine and a few goosebumps too.  Don’t take my word for it. Give “Talk to Me, Talk to Me” or “So Soon” a listen and tell me you don’t agree. For an even bigger treat, check out “Sweet Bitter Love” – a demo recorded in Detroit in late 1966, that’s Aretha on piano and vocal – including the false start.

Track Listing
Disc One, tracks 10, 14 and 18, and Disc Two, track 1, previously released.
Disc One
1. “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” (Demo)
2. “Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)” (Demo)
3. “Sweet Bitter Love” (Aretha Arrives Outtake)
4. “It Was You” (Aretha Arrives Outtake)
5. “The Letter” (Aretha Arrives Outtake)
6. “So Soon” (Aretha Arrives Outtake)
7. “Mr. Big” (Aretha Now Outtake)
8. “Talk To Me, Talk To Me” (Soul ’69 Outtake)
9. “The Fool on the Hill” (This Girl’s In Love With You Outtake)
10. “Pledging My Love/ The Clock” (Single B-Side)
11. “You’re Taking Up Another Man’s Place” (Spirit In The Dark Outtake)
12. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (This Girl’s In Love With You/ Spirit in the Dark Outtake)
13. “I’m Trying To Overcome” (This Girl’s In Love With You/ Spirit in the Dark Outtake)
14. “My Way” (Spirit In The Dark Outtake)
15. “My Cup Runneth Over” (Young, Gifted and Black Outtake)
16. “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Take 1)
17. “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Take 2)
18. “Lean On Me” (Single B-Side)
Disc Two
1. “Rock Steady” (Alternate Mix – Young, Gifted and Black Outtake)
2. “I Need A Strong Man (The To-To Song)” (Young, Gifted and Black Outtake)
3. “Heavenly Father” (Young, Gifted and Black Outtake)
4. “Sweetest Smile and the Funkiest Style” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
5. “This Is” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
6. “Tree of Life” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
7. “Do You Know” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
8. “Can You Love Again” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
9. “I Want to Be With You” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
10. “Suzanne” (Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) Outtake)
11. “Ain’t But The One” (with Ray Charles)
12. “The Happy Blues” (Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
13. “At Last” (Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
14. “Love Letters” (Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
15. “I’m In Love” (Alternate Vocal – Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
16. “Are You Leaving Me” (Demo)




Tony Promo 2

It’s no secret to the readers of The Eclectic Ear that my love of jazz seems to sometimes be stuck between about 1946 and 1966.  My own personal “golden age”.  More or less post-big band, the birth of be-bop, the rise of the great soul and R&B greats, and, of course, the time when giants walked the stage. Trane, Sonny, Miles, Monk, Coleman, Red, Bird. Just to name a few.

But modern music excites me too.  Modern fusion from Weather Report, Zawinul, Di Meola, McLaughlin, Krantz transfixes me in its complexity and sheer improvisation.  There are seemingly no bounds.

I had the pleasure of hearing Tony Adamo’s latest work this month and know that his artistry will continue to have a place in my CD player and through my ear buds as I ride the train into the depths of New York and back to Jersey in the evening.

Adamo has a unique blend of soulful singing with rap/ hip-hop and spoken work added in just the right mix.  Although there are clear strains of Lou Rawls meets Lou Reed, I also hear the syncopated rhythms of Springsteen’s “It’s Hard To Be A Saint in the City” loud and clear.  “The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street, showing me a hand I know even the cops couldn’t beat….”


Personnel: Tony Adamo: vocals, hipspokenword; Mike Clark: drums; Donald Harrison: alto saxophone; Tim Ouimette: trumpet;Michael Wolff: piano; Richie Goods: bass; Lenny White: drums (1); Bill Summers: percussion (1,4,5);Jean C. Santalis: guitar (4).

Although Adamo didn’t invent the “hipspokenword” genre he has clearly mastered it with his soulful baritone, a kick-ass band that lays down infectious grooves and a street-smart lyricism that hits home.  They only problem I had with this album isn’t a problem at all – it left me wanting more. Whether it’s an old gem (check out the cover of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip” below or a new original, it’s all good and it’s on Urban Zone Records.


Check out his site at : tonyadamo.com  or http://urbanzonerecords.com/










Check out this interesting piece on AD about a bootleg Velvet Underground tape that is surfacing   Max’s in the summer of 1970!


Aquarium Drunkard » The Velvet Underground :: The Freeman Tape Sampler, Max’s Kansas City, NYC, August, 1970.


I take a great deal of pleasure in discovering and, more or less devouring, music that is new to my ears. One place where I satisfy that need (some may term it addiction) is Bob Brainen’s weekly radio show on WFMU. Broadcast on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11, Bob plays a wide assortment of rock, jazz, blues and soul records most of which are sourced from his own personal collection. His musical knowledge seemingly knows no end and is more often than not in line with what I like to hear. If I’m not able to near a radio on a Saturday I can listen at my convenience on the web along with the playlist of what has been played. Not a single week goes by when I don’t hear something I’ve never focused on, enjoy, and/or want to add to my collection.

A few times over the past year, Bob has spun platters highlighting the amazing early-jazz drummer Warren “Baby” Dodds (1898 – 1959).

Born in New Orleans, he is widely renowned as one the greats from the era before big band arrived. I had heard his name but didn’t know his music until learning that it’s his talents behind the early work that Louis Armstrong did with his Hot 5 and Hot 7 groups. Dodds had his own style that included a lot of fanciful flourishes while keeping the beat with the bass drum. He was an early proponent of improvisation on the drums.


King Creole Jazz Band – circa 

Dodds – 2nd from left, Louis 3rd from left

“Baby” Dodds was the younger brother of famed early-jazz clarinetist Johnny Dodds (another cohort of Satchmo). His family was poor but very musical and Baby once described first making his own drum as “I took a lard can and put holes in the bottom and turned it over and took nails and put holes around the top of it. Then I took some rounds out of my mother’s chairs and made drumsticks out of them”. He eventually saved up enough for real drums and started playing in various New Orleans street bands including that of Bunk Johnson. Dodds’ presence as a teen on the New Orleans jazz scene exposed him to a lot of the greats of that time like Jelly Roll Morton and the mysterious Buddy Bolden. He also honed his chops by playing in funeral marches. He later stated “The jazz played after New Orleans funerals didn’t show any lack of respect for the person being buried. It rather showed their people that we wanted them to be happy”.


By the time he was 20, Dodds was playing in Fate Marable’s riverboat band and it was there he met a 17-year-old cornetist by the name of Louis Armstrong. The two became friends and played the boats for three years. Talk about your 10,000 hours of practice! These guys lived and breathed music every day on those boats and honed their craft to a razor-sharp edge. They parted ways and Dodds went off to King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, still considered one of the best of its kind. By the time mid-1927 rolled around, Dodds was back with Armstrong as part of the Hot Seven and later that year the Hot Five.