Johnny Dodds’s clarinet galvanized some of the greatest jazz bands of the twenties and thirties. He was one of the earliest pioneers of New Orleans jazz, who began playing in the Crescent City before joining the mass exodus of musicians to Chicago during the twenties. Dodd’s rich tone and cascading runs were first heard on record with King Oliver’s legendary Creole Jazz Band.
Mostly self-taught, Dodds immediately earned the respect of his fellow musicians in the jazz capital of the prewar era. Dodds rarely led his own groups but played with a wide variety of bands, often alongside fellow New Orleans expatriates as well as the Windy City’s top talent. When a young Louis Armstrong organized his first recording sessions as a leader, he picked Dodds as his clarinetist. The recordings of Armstrong’s’ Hot Fives in turn became watershed moments in the development of jazz and American popular music.
Dodd’s style is rooted in the traditional New Orleans collective sound but Dodds was also an especially passionate blues player:
His intense, driving sound also makes fast numbers such as “Wolverine Blues” into uniquely swinging experiences:
In honor of Johnny Dodds’s birthday, Berklee City Music is proud to share the deeply blue and red-hot music of this jazz original.