The Lady Swings: Memoirs Of A Jazz Drummer

Before reading her memoirs, when I thought of Dottie Dodgion, it was of a swing-oriented drummer who occasionally sang. While that description is not off the mark, there is a great deal more to Ms. Dodgion than might have appeared on the surface. Now 92, Dottie Dodgion is quite frank throughout her colorful and consistently fascinating autobiography. While the many episodes of sexism that she went through in her career as a drummer who was also female are not surprising, the hardships that she suffered earlier in her life are a bit of a revelation. When her parents separated, her father kidnapped her and their whereabouts were unknown to her mother for quite some time. Fortunately he treated her well much of the time, introducing Dottie to the jazz music that he loved and played as a drummer. After returning to her mother, Dodgion suffered abuse from her stepfather and received continuous mixed messages and often-bad advice from her erratic mother and relatives. But somehow she was never defeated or felt like a victim, and her remembrances are never self-pitying but instead are a bit breezy, optimistic, and even good-humored. Even during bad times, she had her love for music. Although she showed percussive skills early on, Dodgion made her initial mark as a singer. She sang with Nick Esposito’s band in the San Francisco Bay area during 1945-49 in addition to working at other job
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Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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