Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dodo Marmarosa: Pittsburgh, 1958

I count myself among those who’ve always wondered whatever happened to pianist Dodo Marmarosa since those great records he made in the mid-’40s with Bird, Howard McGhee, Wardell Gray and Lester Young. In 1947, at 21, Esquire named him among its New Stars. A year or so later he was back in Pittsburgh and out of the public’s eye. His last gigs of note were a three-week tour with Artie Shaw in 1949 (from which he was fired after breaking a plate glass window with his fist) and six months with Charlie Spivak in 1953. Except for three LPs on Argo which he recorded in 1961-’62 with his trio, with Gene Ammons and with trumpeter Bill Hardman (the latter two not released until years later), Dodo was truly a forgotten man-due in part to his own problems.

As it turns out, Dodo kept busy playing in various clubs in Chicago and Pittsburgh, primarily at the latter city’s Midway Lounge where 12 of this CD’s 18 tracks were recorded with his trio 40 years ago. Dodo was in top form in a program of standards and bebop favorites, moving easily from a Basie band standby like “Topsy” (to which he added some modern twists) to the bopper’s No. 1 flagwaver, “Cherokee.” (Wow!) Another trio date catches Dodo at a 1956 concert while two different quintet performances-a 1962 TV show and a 1957 studio recording-present him in company with longtime friends.

The informative 32-page booklet by producer Robert Sunenblick includes bios of Dodo and his sidemen and a 1995 interview with the reclusive pianist who hasn’t played in public for 30 years. There’s a lot of very tasty music here.

Originally Published