Ike Rodgers

Trombonist Ike Rodgers was active in St. Louis during the 1920s and early ‘30s, periodically visiting Chicago, Richmond, IN, or Grafton, WI to make records, usually with his buddy, the barrelhouse pianist Henry Brown. Rodgers mainly crops up on blues recordings made during the years 1929-1934. His presumed presence on Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom" session in December 1927 is impossible to verify; if Ike was in the studio, he was standing in for the singer's regular slip horn operator, Al Wynn. On May 7, 1929, Rodgers and Brown backed vocalist Mary Johnson on a pair of sides for the Brunswick label. Two days later, the trombonist made his only recording as a leader. "Malt Can Blues," by Ike Rodgers & His Biddle Street Boys, was released as the flipside of Brown's "Stomp ‘Em Down to the Bricks," both recordings featuring commentary by guitarist Lawrence Casey. On August 16, 1929, Rodgers recorded eight titles with Brown and streetwise blues singer Alice Moore. Rodgers teamed up with cornetist Baby "Jay" James and pianist Roosevelt Sykes on September 7, 1929, in support of vocalists Edith North Johnson and Blind Teddy Darby. On this auspicious occasion, Johnson spontaneously composed a blues she called "The Honeydripper," and after the record was cut, she bestowed the title on Sykes as his new nickname. A variant of this song would be used as Sykes' theme song for another 50 years, and it's worth noting that Ike Rodgers played his horn on the original. Rodgers cut a few more sides with Brown and Mary Johnson in November of 1929 and in February of the following year. His last two known recording sessions took place on August 18 and 24, 1934, with Mary Johnson, Alice Moore, Arthur "Art" McKay, Tecumseh "Tee" MacDonald (who was sometimes billed as Dolly Martin), and a hot little band billed as Peetie Wheatstraw & His Blue Blowers. Available recorded evidence places Rodgers in league with great early session trombonists like Charlie Irvis, Charlie Green, Honore Dutrey, George Brashear, Preston Jackson, Chink Johnson, Albert Wynn, and Kid Ory. ~ arwulf arwulf

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