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New Orleans Stomp

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Album Review

Past Perfect presents 20 classic jazz sides recorded between 1926 and 1940, featuring the New Orleans-cum-Chicago-styled clarinet of Johnny Dodds. This tasty sampler includes several fine collaborations with young cornetist Louis Armstrong, a majestic trio involving Lil Hardin Armstrong and New Orleans bassist Bill Johnson, and various ensembles driven by some seriously funky jug and washboard players. Each performance is well chosen and tidily restored. One that stands out from the rest is "Melancholy," a swinging jam on the blues recorded in 1938 at the beginning of the clarinetist's all-too-brief comeback. With trumpeter Charlie Shavers, pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong, guitarist Teddy Bunn, bassist John Kirby, and drummer O'Neill Spencer, this was by far the most modern-sounding band that Dodds ever got to record with. Bunn's solo is a marvel that might very well need to be heard twice. While any of various chronologically complete retrospectives can provide a more detailed history of Dodds and the music he lived for, Past Perfect's New Orleans Stomp and its companion volume, Blue Clarinet Stomp, are warmly recommended for seasoned listeners and newcomers alike. Packed with hot stomps, syncopated licks, and gully low slow drags, this compilation closes, quite sensibly, with Johnny Dodds' very last recordings: "Red Onion Blues" and "Gravier Street Blues."

Biography

Born: 12 April 1892 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s

One of the all-time great clarinetists and arguably the most significant of the 1920s, Johnny Dodds (whose younger brother Baby Dodds was among the first important drummers) had a memorable tone in both the lower and upper registers, was a superb blues player, and held his own with Louis Armstrong (no mean feat) on his classic Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. He did not start on clarinet until he was 17 but caught on fast, being mostly self-taught. Dodds was with Kid Ory's band during most of 1912-1919,...
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