Sterling Todd

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If levels in obscurity amongst historic jazz artists was classified according to precious metals, then Sterling Todd would be promoted to gold. Discographer Tom Lord makes note of only one recording session…
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If levels in obscurity amongst historic jazz artists was classified according to precious metals, then Sterling Todd would be promoted to gold. Discographer Tom Lord makes note of only one recording session involving this artist in 1928, meaning that Todd just barely made it into Lord's discographical scrolls, not that he would have been missed amongst the armies of obscurities. The reference might be off its numbers, anyway, since there is the possibility of the pianist participating in a session a year earlier, in both cases as a member of Doc Cook & His 14 Doctors of Syncopation. Todd's riffs are part of an inspired "Brainstorm" and a confessional "Hum and Strum (Do-Do-Do, That's What I Do)." In the '90s, reissues of early material featuring trumpeter Freddie Keppard and Jimmie Noone brought additional recorded performances by Todd to light in the context of Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra.

It is also known that this pianist was the only member of the Cook band who did not lose his own property in the course of the catastrophic event that led to the demise of this interesting, extended ensemble. This should be considered one of the few positive aspects of being a pianist: when this group had all of its instruments stolen while on break during a 48-hour dance marathon, it can logically be assumed that the thieves left the piano on-stage, although historians specializing in famous equipment thefts will not discuss this detail. Another historic fact about Todd is provided in an interview with the mother of Johnny Griffin, who says Todd gave piano lessons to her son the tenor saxophonist when he was a child in Chicago. This is an indication that Todd at least spent some time teaching during his later years, perhaps to avoid further encounters with instrument snatchers.