Harry Dial

Harry Dial was a great drummer in the early jazz era. His specialty was keeping time behind musicians known for their enthusiasm and energy. A glance at Dial’s discography can be compared to a partial scan through the greatest albums of all-time, as it would include sides by Louis Armstrong and Jordan, as well as Fats Wallace and Ella Fitzgerald. Dial was an energetic, solid drummer who kept the beat moving without clogging the airspace. This left plenty of space for Waller’s muted asides or Satchmo to recite the beat’s phrasing. His use of the sock drum and fat marching band snare drum sounds are often copied. Dial was also a rare singing drummer, his vocal talents were usually only revealed when he was the band’s leader. Fats Waller allowed him to comment on records, his best example being the intro to the upbeat “Don’t Let It Bother Me.” Waller informs his drummer that he is feeling glum. Dial then asks him if he has any problems. My dear old lady ran away with the iceman. My daughter went with the undertaker. And now I’m about dying and have no one to bury me!” As a bandleader, Dial led a number of sides for Vocalion starting in 1930. This group, which recorded the deadly “Poison”, was also known as Harry Dial’s Blusicians (sic), with players like Eursten Woodfork (a banjoist), Shirley Clay (a trumpeter), and Lester Boone (an alto saxophonist). Some of the material was reissued on Chicago 1929-1930: This’s My Stuff. Armstrong was already recording at this point and he began working with Waller in Fats Waller’s Rhythm shortly before the end of that decade. He might have needed to spend another ten years learning how to play the maracas. He seemed to be able to incorporate the delicate shakers into almost every kind of music that he had played since the mid-’40s, when he joined the Tympany Five. He recorded “Prince’s Boogie”, a Decca song with one of his earliest versions “Diddy Wah Diddy” in the late 1940s. Dial loved to write, starting with “Don’t Play Me cheap”, which was recorded by Armstrong. The merely infamous also recorded his songs, which would not be possible without Bea Booze, the singer who recorded Dial’s “Catchin as Catch Can” for Decca. He published his autobiography, All This Jazz About Jazz: Harry Dial, many years later. He is not related to the young Tennessee blues guitarist and songwriter Harry Dial. Also, he was not the inspiration of the Harry Dial character on Murder She Wrote played by tough guy Vince Edwards. The dapper and suave Dial would have thought it important to mention that he is not the Harry Dial, who claimed to have lived 78 years without ever having bathed. Allmusic

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