Dottie Dodgion, one of many only a few high-profile feminine drummers within the male-dominated jazz world of the Fifties and ’60s, died on Sept. 17 in a hospice heart in Pacific Grove, Calif. She was 91.
The trigger was a stroke, mentioned her daughter and solely instant survivor, Deborah Dodgion.
Ms. Dodgion, who was recognized for her regular and swinging however unobtrusive method to the drums, labored for greater than 60 years with a few of the greatest names in jazz, together with Benny Goodman, Marian McPartland and Ruby Braff. She additionally led her personal combos. However she hardly ever recorded.
“She didn’t get the publicity that she may need gotten by recording due to her gender,” said Wayne Enstice, who collaborated together with her on her autobiography, “The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer” (2021). “She wasn’t taken as significantly as she ought to have been — not by different musicians, however by individuals on the enterprise facet.”
Not like some drummers, Ms. Dodgion was extra involved with preserving the beat than with calling consideration to herself.
“There’s no denying that many drummers love the highlight,” she wrote in her autobiography. “That’s why I typically say I’m not a ‘actual drummer.’”
She hardly ever took solos, she wrote, and when she did solo her method “got here from being a singer. I’d hear the melody inside my head so the rhythms I laid down all the time adopted the track type of no matter tune I performed.”
She continued to play till she was 90, together with her personal trio, on Thursday nights at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, close to her house in Pacific Grove — a gig that lasted 14 years. After breaking a shoulder in 2019, she sang whereas one other drummer, Andy Weis, crammed in for her, till the coronavirus compelled the lodge to close down briefly.
“She swung laborious — and that meant there was a lesson to be heard in watching her play,” Mr. Weis mentioned by telephone. “She knew precisely what tempo would swing the toughest.”
The celebrated jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington recalled that she had begun enjoying drums at 7 and first noticed Ms. Dodgion about two years later at a ladies’s jazz competition. So far as Ms. Carrington knew on the time, Ms. Dodgion was the one feminine drummer round.
“She all the time had a good looking time really feel, which is a very powerful a part of being a drummer,” Ms. Carrington mentioned in a telephone interview. “She was by no means the fanciest, trickiest drummer on this planet who dazzled with solos, however she actually captured the essence of being a drummer.”
Dorothy Rosalie Giaimo was born on Sept. 23, 1929, in Brea, Calif. Her father, Charles, was a drummer. Her mom, Ada (Tipton) Giaimo, aspired to be a dancer however grew to become a waitress after her husband left the household when Dottie was 2.
Sooner or later, when she was 5, her father stopped by her grandparents’ home in Los Angeles, the place she was residing, and, as she mentioned, “kidnapped” her, taking her on the highway for 2 years to the motels, highway homes and strip joints the place he led a band. Absorbing the sounds and rhythms of her father’s drumming was her introduction to point out enterprise, albeit in opposition to her will. She was 7 when she returned to her mom, who had remarried.
Her stepfather, a hen farmer, raped Dottie when she was 10; he was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in jail. After she and her mom moved to Berkeley, Calif., Dottie discovered peace in her weekend bus journeys to San Francisco to see her father’s band at a strip membership, Streets of Paris.
“His wonderful time attracted all the perfect strippers,” she wrote.
As a young person, she sang at personal events and weddings, which led to work within the mid-Nineteen Forties with bands led by the jazz guitarist Nick Esposito and the famend bassist Charles Mingus. Singing finally gave approach to drumming, which she picked up by listening to her father, and thru the Fifties she performed in golf equipment in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nevada. For a time, she was the home drummer at Jimbo’s Bop City in San Francisco.
Assembly the bassist Eugene Wright, who would change into an integral a part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, had a transformative impact on how she seen her function in a band.
“Eugene coached me on the nuances of enjoying in a rhythm part,” she wrote, “together with the intangible insides on learn how to match with the piano and the bass.”
Ms. Dodgion’s first marriage, to Robert Bennett, was annulled; her marriages to Monty Budwig, a bassist, and Jerry Dodgion, a saxophonist, led to divorce.
With Mr. Dodgion, who was in Benny Goodman’s band, Ms. Dodgion moved to Manhattan in 1961. On their first day there, the band rehearsed for an engagement at Basin Avenue East. Ms. Dodgion dropped her husband off; when she returned on the finish of the rehearsal, she was shocked when Goodman, who was in search of a brand new drummer, requested her to sit down in with the band.
“I believed it was only a jam session,” she informed The New York Instances in 1972. “Benny’d name out a quantity — ‘Gotta Be This or That’ — and I’d begin in search of the music. However he’d say, ‘Don’t open the e book.’ Each tune, it was the identical — ‘Don’t open the e book.’ On the finish of the rehearsal, Benny mentioned: ‘See you tonight, Jerry. You, too, Dottie.’ That was how I came upon I used to be going to play with the band.”
Ten days into the engagement on the membership, Goodman forgot to introduce her when he name-checked another members of his 10-piece band. When the group demanded that he announce her title, he relented, and she or he obtained a standing ovation. However as she left the bandstand, she later recalled, Goodman’s supervisor whispered “’Bye” in her ear, indicating that she was being fired for getting extra applause than her boss.
She was not out of labor for lengthy. She shortly bought a job with Tony Bennett on the Waldorf-Astoria Resort. Over the following 40 years, she performed with Marian McPartland, Ruby Braff, Zoot Sims, Wild Bill Davison, Joe Venuti and others.
“She may adapt from swing to bop, to Latin rhythms, all with out calling consideration to herself,” Mr. Enstice mentioned. “She may slot in with anybody.”
Ms. Dodgion labored with Ms. McPartland in 1964 and once more 13 years later, when Ms. McPartland led an all-female band.
“Dorothy had a pure sense of swing,” Ms. McPartland informed The Sacramento Bee in 1989. “She retains regular time and she or he swings — these are a very powerful issues for drummer.”