Bill Dawson

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Credited as William Dawson on a 1926 recording session and slimmed down to fit the Bill a few years later, this obscure brassman from the New Orleans jazz scene should not be confused with the great Afro-American…
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Credited as William Dawson on a 1926 recording session and slimmed down to fit the Bill a few years later, this obscure brassman from the New Orleans jazz scene should not be confused with the great Afro-American composer, arranger, and educator William L. Dawson from Alabama, although that is bound to happen when the latter artist's middle initial gets waylaid or simply as a result of the lack of information about the former Dawson. The jazzman left behind a discographical dribble, not a creek. He appeared on a grand total of two recording sessions, both projects overseen by the conductor and bandleader Doc Cook.

A sextet called Cookie's Gingersnaps cut tracks in 1926, including a sultry "Fever" and a rambunctious "Messin' Around." Had Dawson made a big name for himself in later years, chances are this material might have eventually been reissued under his name. That, after all, is what happened with bandmembers Jimmie Noone, a clarinetist, and Freddie Keppard, who blew cornet in the front line. Consumers have the choice of acquiring this material under either artist's name on several musically near-identical collections. The more ambitious 1928 recordings by Doc Cook & His 14 Doctors of Syncopation have met the same fate, duplications that at least serve the purpose of padding out the size of Dawson's record pile.

What happened to this musician after 1928 remains a mystery, but a theory has been advanced that Dawson might not have been able to afford to keep playing. The baker's dozen plus one outfit of Doc Cook unfortunately was robbed of all of its instruments during a break at a lengthy dance contest, an brazen act of larceny that resulted in the band breaking up. Considering how little money sidemen in these types of groups are paid, it is not unlikely that the trombonist was simply unable to replace his horn and gave up playing entirely.