Strongly influenced by both Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton, Ray Bauduc was Singleton’s counterpart in the white Dixieland revival. His style was an intriguing combination of vaudeville, ragtime, and the basic New Orleans rhythms he’d grown up absorbing.
Bauduc was born in New Orleans in 1909, and studied drumming with Kid Peterson, a prominent New Orleans teacher. A natural drummer, Bauduc advanced rapidly and made his recording debut in 1926 at the age of seventeen with the Memphis Five. In 1927 he joined the Freddy Rich Orchestra in New York, and later toured Europe with the band. However, it wasn’t until 1929—as a member of the Ben Pollack band—when Bauduc truly began to develop and hone his own inimitable style.
After leaving Pollack, Bauduc joined Bob Crosby & the Bobcats, the band in which he would gain recognition as a key force in jazz drumming. A popular figure in the Crosby band, Bauduc was a skilled, fiery soloist who knew how to combine showmanship with musicality. Though he recorded extensively with Crosby, his most memorable effort was the hit recording of “Big Noise From Winnetka,” a duet with bassist Bob Haggart where the drum solo was played on the strings of Haggart’s bass. Bauduc was also known to use sticks on his bass drum, and would often play on the rims of the snare and bass drum for special effects. A loose, relaxed player, he was one of the first to utilize two small toms on the bass drum, and has also been credited with inventing a pedal tom-tom that was operated like a timpani.
Bauduc remained with the Crosby band until 1942, winning the downbeat award in 1940. He later went on to perform with bands led by Tommy Dorsey, Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, Joe Venuti, and Jack Teagarden. He led his own band for several years, and spent 1947–50 with Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra. Ray Bauduc passed away in 1988.