Gene Krupa’s Wisdom for the Ages Pt. 2

SKF NOTE: Recently I posted a quote from Gene Krupa in which he tells us some of what he learned about drumming from Baby Dodds and other older drummers. He’s more from Krupa on the same topic. Thank you writer Rudi Blesh for sharing Krupa’s words for posterity.


Now at last Gene [Krupa] was hearing in person the real masters who had led his generation into jazz. He finally heard Louis [Armstrong] and Earl Hines…. He also met and heard the New Orleans drum giants who had nourished [Dave] Tough and [George] Wettling. There was Tubby Hall and Zutty Singleton….

[Krupa said,] “They were great! They knew every trick and just how to phrase the parts of the choruses behind the horns, how to lead a man in, what to do at the turnarounds, when to use sticks and when to use brushes, when to go for the rims or the woodblocks, what cymbals are for.

“But there was only one Baby Dodds. He was at Kelly’s Stable with his brother Johnny, cornetist Natty Dominique, and a piano player. Baby taught me more than all the others — not only drum playing but drum philosophy. He did all that the others did, and more. He was the first great drum soloist. His concept went on from keeping time to making the drums a melodic part of jazz. It was partly the way he tuned his drums — the intervals he used. I got that from him. And it was partly his concept of tone. Baby could play a tune on his drums, and if you listened carefully, you could tell the melody.”

Source: Eight Lives in Jazz Combo U.S.A., by Rudi Blesh, Hayden Book Co., NY (1971)

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