Oct 27, 2013

Louis, Sonny, Dizzy, and "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas"

The other day I had a few minutes between lessons, and randomly opened up the Hal Leonard "Real Book" Vol. 5 (reviewed here), to a tune called "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas." Remembering the song title from an R. Crumb cartoon, I looked at the tune a little closer, and had a flash of recognition: the chord progression is basically the same as Sonny Rollins' "Doxy." I'd always heard that "Doxy" was written on the chords to "Ja-Da" (1918), but the bridge of "Doxy" fits the "Ding Dong Daddy" bridge a lot better. Of course, that led to some clicking around.

According to Wikipedia, "'Doxy' was written by Sonny Rollins during his stopover in England on a European tour. Its name is given after a bread-spread that the band was eating in the hotel." Here's the first recording of "Doxy," with Sonny and Miles (1954):

Although it wasn't the first recording of "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas," one of the best is by Louis Armstrong (1930):

Here's another 1930 recording by Slatz Randall, posted as a 2-song medley (both sides of the record), with "Daddy" preceded by a tune called "Skirts," which has the same chordal template. You'll notice that Slatz's version of "Ding Dong Daddy" includes a lead-in section, sort of like the "verse" in many "Golden Age" standards:

In Louis' version, note the "Salt Peanuts" riff at the end of the trumpet solo - the first recorded use of this riff. Dizzy expanded it by two bars and used it in "Little John Special," a blues that he recorded with Lucky Millinder (1942):

In 1943 Dizzy re-framed the riff over (more or less) Rhythm changes, as the bop classic "Salt Peanuts."

But to get back to Louis - Here is a really great writeup by Armstrong expert Ricky Riccardi, with a wealth of interesting details about the song, Louis, Dumas (Texas), and much more.

In this article, the author mentions "How Come You Do Me Like You Do" (1924) as the source of the "Doxy" changes. Maybe. It's closer than "Ja-Da," but the bridge to "How Come" is still a bit different, ending on the tonic chord. I think "Ding Dong Daddy" is still a better fit. Or maybe "Skirts." Maybe all of them. You be the judge!

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