Louis “Old Man” Cottrell (1878-1927) was a pioneering American jazz drummer who is credited with introducing the “press roll” into jazz drumming. Cottrell is considered as one of the finest parade drummers of all time and contributed to the root of United States drum kit playing. He is known as the Grandfather of jazz drumming, having taught such greats as Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Paul Barbarin, Louis Barbarin, Freddie Kohlman, Cie Frazier, Alfred Williams, Ernest Rogers, George Henderson and Albert France.
Louis Cottrell, Sr. played with John Robichaux’s Orchestra, the Olympia Orchestra and with Manuel Perez in Chicago. He also performed with A.J. Piron’s Orchestra. “Old Man” Cottrell played in Storyville (The District), having worked at the 101 Ranch, Pete Lala’s and the Tuxedo Dance Hall in the Storyville District.
Cottrell worked for P.P. Werlein & Halsey in which he would inspect and approve all new drums for their retail business. Louis Armstrong described Cottrell as a fantastic drummer who would come on the streets in each parade with a brand new snare drum, which would break it up. Papa John Joesph, a contemporary of Louis Cottrell Sr., described Cottrell as the “best drummer we had yet. That man could roll a drum.”