One of the all-time great clarinetists and arguably the most significant of the 1920s, Johnny Dodds (whose younger brother Baby Dodds was among the first important drummers) had a memorable tone in both the lower and upper registers, was a superb blues player, and held his own with Louis Armstrong (no mean feat) on his classic Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings.
He did not start on clarinet until he was 17 but caught on fast, being mostly self-taught. Dodds was with Kid Ory's band during most of 1912-1919, played on riverboats with Fate Marable in 1917, and joined King Oliver in Chicago in 1921. During the next decade, he recorded with Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and on his own heated sessions, often utilizing trumpeter Natty Dominique. He worked regularly at Kelly's Stables during 1924-1930. Although Dodds continued playing in Chicago during the 1930s, part of the time was spent running a cab company. The clarinetist led recording sessions in 1938 and 1940, but died just before the New Orleans revival movement began. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi