Baudac, Ray

Ray Bauduc appearing in Fabulous Dorseys movie in 1947

  • Birth name: Ray Bauduc
  • Born: June 18, 1906 New Orleans, LA USA
  • Died: January 8, 1988 (Age 81)
  • Genres: Jazz
  • Occupation: Musician, songwriter
  • Instruments: Drums
  • Associated Acts: Bob Crosby
  • Influences: Warren “Baby” Dodds
  • Authored: Dixieland Drumming (1936) and 150 Progressive Drum Rhythms (1940)

Best known as a jazz drummer for his work with the Bob Crosby Orchestra and their band-within-a-band, the Bobcats, between 1935 and 1942. Ray is also renowned for his partial composition of the jazz standard, Big Noise from Winnetka, although Gene Krupa overshadowed Ray with his own rendition of the tune.

Ray’s youthful work in New Orleans included performing in the band of Johnny Bayersdorffer and on radio broadcasts. His New Orleans origin instilled in him a love for two-beat drumming, which he retained when he played with Bob Crosby’s swing-era big band. In 1926 he moved to New York City to join Joe Venutis band. His other work in the 1920s included recording with the Original Memphis Five and the Scranton Sirens, which included Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey.

His time with the Bob Crosby Orchestra brought him national fame. Ray and bassist Bob Haggart composed two hits for the orchestra: “South Rampart Street Parade” (recorded in November 1937), and “Big Noise from Winnetka” (recorded in 1938). The latter song was later played by the Crosby orchestra with lyrics and horns.

Ray’s use of woodblocks, cowbells, China cymbals, and tom-toms distinguished him from most drummers of the swing era and made him one of the few white drummers (the others being George WettlingDave Tough and Gene Krupa, but they were not so obvious) to be influenced by Warren “Baby” Dodds.

Ray was a trend setter in traditional jazz circles. His precise, disciplined, yet fiery patterns and syncopated fills helped New Orleans drummers make the transition into swing from the rigid, clipped progressions that had defined the previous era. The son of the great cornetist Jules Bauduc, his brother Jules Jr. taught him drums. His sister was also a musician who played piano. 

Ray served in the U.S. Army Artillery Band until November 1944. After his discharge, he and former Crosby group leader Gil Rodin formed a short-lived big band. Ray toured with a septet in 1946 before joining Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra from August to October. He joined Bob Crosby’s new group in 1947 but left to play with Jimmy Dorsey for the next two years. He freelanced on the West Coast for a couple of years before joining Jack Teagarden in 1952. In 1955 he formed a band with Nappy Lamare from the Crosby orchestra which found considerable success, touring nationally and recording several albums.

From 1960, Ray lived in Bellaire, Texas, in semi-retirement but visited New Orleans in 1983. He appeared occasionally at Crosby Orchestra reunions and worked with Pud Brown on several recordings. Ray passed away in Houston, Texas on January 8, 1988.