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Bunk Johnson

Due to the difference of opinion between his followers (who claimed he was a brilliant stylist) and his detractors (who felt that his playing was worthless), Bunk Johnson was a controversial figure in the mid-'40s, when he made a most unlikely comeback. The truth is somewhere in between.

Bunk Johnson, who tended to exaggerate, claimed that he was born in 1879 and that he played with Buddy Bolden in New Orleans, but it was discovered that he was actually a decade younger. He did have a pretty tone and, although not an influence on Louis Armstrong (as he often stated), he was a major player in New Orleans starting around 1910 when he joined the Eagle Band. Johnson was active in the South until the early '30s, but did not record during that era. Discovered in the latter part of the decade by Bill Russell and Fred Ramsey, he was profiled in the 1939 book Jazzmen. A collection was taken up to get Johnson new teeth and a horn. In 1942, he privately recorded in New Orleans, and the next year he was in San Francisco playing with the wartime edition of the Yerba Buena Jazz Band. An alcoholic, Johnson's playing tended to be erratic, and when Sidney Bechet recruited him for a band in 1945, he essentially drank himself out of the group. In 1946, Bunk Johnson led a group that included the nucleus of the ensemble George Lewis would make famous a few years later, but Johnson disliked the playing of the primitive New Orleans musicians. He was more comfortable the following year heading a unit filled with skilled swing players, and his final album (Columbia's The Last Testament of a Great Jazzman) was one of his best recordings. In 1948, the trumpeter (who was only 59 but seemed much older) returned to Louisiana and retired. Many of Bunk Johnson's better recordings have been reissued on CD by Good Time Jazz and American Music. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 1944-Volume 2

1. Ballin' The Jack

2. Blue As I Can Be

5. Yes, Yes In Your Eyes

6. See See Rider

7. Precious Lord

8. New Iberia Blues

x

Track List: Bunk's Blues

1. Bunk's Blues

2. Ballin' The Jack

3. Big Chief Battle Axe

4. When I Leave The World Behind

5. Thriller Rag

6. Ory's Creole Trombone

7. When I Move To The Sky

8. Down By The Riverside

9. Days Beyond Recall

10. Porto Rico

11. Sobbin' Blues

12. Willie The Weeper

13. Alexander's Ragtime Band

14. Tishomingo Blues

15. Sister Kate

16. One Sweet Letter From You

17. When The Saints

18. I Can't Escape From You

19. Snag It

20. Peg O' My Heart (Extract)

21. The Minstrel Man

22. Kinklets

23. Maria Elena

x

Track List: Bunk Johnson - The Roaring Forties

1. You Always Hurt The One You Love

2. Milenberg Joys

3. Lord, Let Me In The Lifeboat

4. Down By The Riverside

5. Storyville Blues

6. Ace In The Hole

7. Ory's Creole Trombone

8. The Girls Go Crazy 'Bout The Way I Walk

9. Careless Love

10. Walk Through The Streets Of The City

11. After You've Gone

12. Swanee River

13. Dusty Rag

14. Panama

15. Down By The Riverside

16. Moose March

17. Spicy Advice

18. Ballin' The Jack

19. Lowdown Blues

x

Track List: Bunk Johnson Volume 1 - New York (1945-1946)

1. Maryland, My Maryland (Take B)

2. Alexander's Ragtime Band (Take B)

3. Tishomingo Blues (Take A)

4. You Always Hurt The One You Love (Take B)

5. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Take 2)

6. A Closer Walk With Thee (Take 1)

7. Snag It (Take 1)

8. One Sweet Letter From You (Take 2)

9. When The Saints Go Marching In

10. High Society

11. Darktown Strutters Ball

12. Franklin Street Blues

13. I Can't Escape From You (V Disc)

14. Snag It (V Disc)

15. Maryland, My Maryland (Take A)

16. Alexander's Ragtime Band (Take A)

17. Tishomingo Blues (Take B)

18. You Always Hurt The One You Love (Take A)

19. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Take 1)

20. A Closer Walk With Thee (Take 2)

21. Snag It (Take 2)

22. One Sweet Letter From You (Take 1)

x

Track List: Bunk Johnson Plays Popular Songs

1. In The Gloaming

2. I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

3. You've Got To See Mamma Ev'ry Night

4. Beautiful Doll

5. When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain

6. Where The River Shannon Flows

7. Ja-Da

8. Poor Butterfly

9. I'm Making Believe

10. I Don't Want To Walk Without You, Baby

11. Yes, Yes In Your Eyes

12. Carry Me Back To Old Virginny

13. The Waltz You Saved For Me

14. When You And I Were Young Maggie

15. Sweet Georgia Brown

16. Amour

17. You Always Hurt The One You Love

18. Maria Elana

19. After You've Gone

20. Indiana

Comments

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I haven't heard the Tishomingo Blues in ages. GREAT!










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