Dottie Dodgion The Female Innovator of Jazz Drumming

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Dottie Dodgion is more than just a drummer. She is an innovator who understands the different needs of her fans and the music industry as large. For this reason, she has always come up with different styles of performing jazz that leaves her fans begging for more. 

Even though her work is mostly lost to history, the renowned female drummer has never disappointed in her 50-year career. Every she is behind the throne; she has something new to give to her audience, and it comes out as naturally as possible.

Dottie Dodgion Performing
Dottie Dodgion Performing

One thing that always amuses those who listen to Dottie Dodgion is how she adapts to different styles of playing drums. She doesn’t even have to know the songs. And perhaps that is one thing that drives her motivation. That she seems to let, the drums decide how they want to be played.

In her early career, Dodgion played briefly with Benny Goodman’s orchestra, a period that largely shaped her career. When she became a fixture at West Coast jazz festivals in her later years, it was because her contribution to the industry has spread across boundaries. She has played with Brecker Brothers and many other bands she helped establish.

Dodgion, more like Viola Smith, seems to have concentrated all her energy on drumming and performing live than she has in the studio. This is why she has not recorded much. Despite this, the few records she has worked on remains some of the top pieces on the jazz market. Her one vocal album released in 1996 has always left many wondering why she never took it any further.

There is only one video clip she produced that comes from 2013. Looking at what she has done, she stands as one of the best female drummers in her early years based on the elegant brushwork; she died at 84.

Early life and career

Dottie was born as Dorothy Rosalie Giaimo, on September 23, 1929. She is an American jazz drummer and musician who has left a huge impact on the industry. She was born in Brea, California, and displayed her talent at an early age.

Vi Red, Marian Mcpartlan & Dottie Dodgion
Vi Red, Marian Mcpartlan & Dottie Dodgion

As a child, the performer sang in a band led by her father, a drummer, which encouraged her to become one. While growing up in the Bay Area, she had opportunities to sing with Charles Mingus as a teenager before marrying Monty Budwig.

Her drumming career began in the 1950s while married to Budwig, who tried to dissuade her on many occasions, but the encouragement from Jerry Dodgion kept her in the game.

She continued on the same path, working with Carl Fontana in Las Vegas toward the end of the decade. She has already divorced Budwig to marry Dodgion before relocating to NY city.

Again she got to play with Benny Goodman’s ensemble for one week before moving in partnership with Marian McPartland and Eddie Gomez, Billy Mitchell, and Al Grey, among many others.

Dottie has always known what she wanted and strived to get it at all odds. This is the reason she will always be part of a great society.  

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