Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ray Bauduc

He would probably not make the top ten list of greatest drummers, or even influential drummers, but Bauduc's influence on me is strong.

Among the music my parents listened to when I was growing up in the 1950s were Dixieland albums. I am sure they were caught up in the end of the Dixieland revival. At any rate, many of those albums featured Bauduc as drummer. It was much later that I learned to appreciate the music, but at the time the beat was sinking into me at a subconscious level.

A brief, but accurate biography of Bauduc is about as much meat as you are going to find about him on the web. However, he is given a four-page chapter in Drummin' Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz The Swing Years, and is also mentioned elsewhere in that excellent book. Helen Oakley Dance, quoted in the chapter on Chick Webb, mentioned that Bauduc was one of the drummers that Chick admired. Considering that Chick is [arguably] the best drum kit player ever born that is high praise of Bauduc's abilities.

He will be best remembered for his drum and bass duet with Bob Haggert, Big Noise from Winetka, shown here:

However, I will always be inspired by his fluid movement around the drum kit and his amazing press rolls, all of which are shown in this clip:

His drumming was tasteful, and despite being typecast as a 2/4 time Dixieland drummer, Ray could swing. Indeed, this was noted by Louis Bellson in the video Legends of Jazz Drumming. In the video segment that focused on Bauduc, Bellson also related a story about when he asked Benny Goodman who his favorite drummers were. Goodman cited Gene Krupa, Ray Bauduc and Ray McKinley. When Bellson told Goodman that he understood Krupa, since Goodman always had a love for Gene's playing, but why the other two? Goodman replied that they really knew how to play the snare drum. Indeed, Bauduc was a master on snare drum, which should be evident from the two clips provided above.

Here is Ray in a more swinging performance that shows his versatility. This song, Dark Eyes, is one of Gene Krupa's signature songs, and Ray does it justice:

Less known about Bauduc is the fact that he had a hand in both the design of the swish cymbal for Zildjian, and the Speedking for W. F. Ludwig.

From Jazz Archivist, Volume 4:

An imaginative drummer, who listed Zutty Singleton and Baby Dodds among his favorites, Ray Bauduc collaborated with Avedis Zildjian on a new cymbal design. Their Zildjian Swish Cymbal replaced a Chinese-manufactured cymbal no longer available in the 1930s because of the China-Japan war.
And from Drummin' Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz The Swing Years:

Impressive credentials that indicate Bauduc's influence extended well beyond the bandstand.

If the music from the video clips above inspires you to learn more about Ray Bauduc's style I recommend Dixieland Generation, which combines the 24 tracks from Riverboat Dandies and Two Beat Generation into a single CD. You will be treated to the full spectrum of Ray Bauduc's playing.


Unknown said...

Thanks Mike, this is awesome. He was one of my early influences. When I saw that Big Noise clip at 18 or so, I knew that I wanted to play like that.

Mike Tarrani said...

That makes two of us James! Thanks for your comment.

Eie said...

Dont forget his colourful work in Jimmy Dorseyfs Dorseyland band!