Ray Bauduc was born on June 18, 1909, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Until his death on January 8, 1988, he was one of the best drummers on the New Orleans music scene. His origins and background led him into loving the two-beat drumming style, which was his signature in Bob Crosby’s swing-era big band.
Before Ray Bauduc became popular and before his days with Crosby, the drummer worked with other artists, including John Bayersdorffer, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, and Freddie Rich. He was also featured as a dancer in Rich’s band. Many who have worked with Bauduc describe him as a talented musician who does not only recreate music but also comes up with new ways of achieving his target. In other words, he is an innovator who would create a unique style to fit the song he was playing.
Bauduc joined the Ben Pollack band in 1828. At this time, Pollack had left drumming to concentrate on leading. He was one of the most important members of the band when it was dissolved to become one of the few corporate bands on the jazz scene. Then it was under the nominal leadership of Bob Crosby.
Most of the bands in the era played only in 4/4 time, which was not very complicated. Bauduc brought in something new with his 2/4 drumming to create a whole new face of the music industry then. It was a style that made the band stand out and perhaps one of the reasons it became very popular.
Bauduc worked with the band extensively, although he could work with smaller bands like the BobCats and Four of the Bob of the Bob Cats. His most important moment, and perhaps one that changed his career path for good, came when Blackhawk Ballroom came across him and bassist Bob Haggart working on a tune, in which Haggart whistled while he worked on the bass strings. This led to one of the greatest hits from the band, Big Noise From Winnetka.
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Bauduc is remembered for his work on a number of hits that still warm the air today. Another good example is the South Rampart Street Parade, a composition by Bauduc and Haggart. He was also an excellent soloist, as seen in his work with the Big Crash From China band. The band broke up in 1942, leaving Bauduc to work with other artists, including Jimmy Dorse, Jack Teargarden, and many others. And in the ’50s, he became a co-leader with Nappy Lamare, with whom they worked together under Crosby.
Bauduc has lived in Texas since 1960. He was not fully retired yet as he visited New Orleans in 1983, where he was received happily. In 1985, he delivered another outstanding performance during the reunion of the Crosby band at the Mid-America Jazz Festival in St. Louis, demonstrating that he still had his enthusiasm. Ray Bauduc approached drums with a snappy, clean, exuberant style that delivered to the band the energy they required to grow. And it’s the same power that makes a listener of his work happy.