Bunny Plays Great.. even the liner notes rock..!
canuckteach Jazz Guy | Orillia, Ontario Canada | 07/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"yup.. the liner notes by jazzologist Richard Sudhalter are terrific, too: great background on the player and the era where men were nicknamed Cootie, Bunny, Doc, or Shorty..
the tunes are fabulous.. and there's lots of them, too.. ranging from Bunny's powerful work in the early 30's with Gene Gifford (Nothin but the Blues), Frankie Trumbauer (Troubled), Benny Goodman (King Porter Stomp, Sometimes I'm Happy), to his later stuff with Tommy Dorsey--orchestras and all-star jam groups: "Honeysuckle Rose" (with Fats Waller), "Blue Lou", "Song of India" and "Marie".
Then, we get the incomparable "I Can't Get Started" featuring Bunny's high register-then-low-register-riffs and smooth, haunting vocal, as Bunny led his own orchestra. Sudhalter figgers that the work Bunny's band turned out was amazing, considering the financial, and alcoholic, fracas this 'laughing band'(Johnny Napton-trumpeter) was in--constantly! but you also hear his group turn out hot tunes including "Russian Lullaby", "Prisoner's Song", and maybe the best version of "Jelly Roll Blues" ever.
The last cut is a radio aircheck from 1940 with Tommy Dorsey: "I've Found a New Baby".. ah yes, there was hope that Bunny might survive the medical crises he had recently faced---but it was not to be. Shortly after, he succumbed to alcoholism--reminiscent of that previous tragic figure Bix - oh how nice it would have been if these two virtuosos had survived.
But listen to this first-rate Bunny collection - and lament."
You Can Get Started Here
BluesDuke | Las Vegas, Nevada | 12/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How good was Bunny Berigan? Here's one hint: legendary producer and scout John Hammond talked a reluctant Gene Krupa into giving one more try with a new Benny Goodman orchestra (this would be the one to launch the Swing Era officially in short order) by, among other things, highlighting that Berigan had agreed to join the band.
If you prefer to dip slowly into Berigan's pool, this disc is the place to do it. A better overview of his career as sideman and leader alike isn't likely to be had, even if I'm docking a star because one of his loveliest turns--on Benny Goodman's beautiful "Goodbye"--is missing. Maybe the best trumpeter of the 1930s and 40s who wasn't named Louis Armstrong, Berigan's insecurities and business reluctance drove him to alcohol and bankruptcy and a too-early death. Yet he was so decent a person, seemingly, that Fox Lake, Wisconsin, where he grew up, commemorates him annually even today.
Berigan sent every drop of his soul turmoil into a striking tone, a rare dynamism as an improvisor in short settings, and a remarkable consistency whether blowing in the high or low register. He even sounded better making the occasional mistake than most trumpetmeisters sounded getting it note perfect. That's how good Bunny Berigan really was. His gift was so complete that he could take even the most trite material and make you sit through it just to hear his turn, but on this disc there's very little trite and nearly all solid meat.
And if you go from here to examining his discography in more depth (any side of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, or Artie Shaw that features him is worth the hunt, as are some of his radio broadcasts under his own name), you'll figure out soon enough that "I Can't Get Started" was merely his biggest hit and his signature. (And it deserved to be; it is Berigan who turned the song from perhaps a Vernon Duke-Ira Gershwin by-the-way number into an unquestioned standard. He also had, by the way, a pleasant enough singing voice; no threat to Frank Sinatra but not exactly a throwaway, either.) Bunny Berigan deserves his legend, but every note you hear from him will inform you how much of a waste it was that no one, including and especially himself, could obstruct his destroying himself."
Miracle Man of Swing
BluesDuke | 07/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Crisp audio, superb selections, and sensitive liner notes by Bix and Hoagy biographer Richard Sudhalter create an altogether revelatory introduction to this Swing Era giant. Trumpeter Bunny Berigan deserves better than the meager jazz history footnotes he's been given lately. His artistry's been obscured by his reputation as a tragic white jazz legend, and yes, the details of his early death are heartbreaking, but concentrate on his music instead: it sighs with regret, simmers with desire, and dances with joy.
"The Pied Piper" showcases Bunny as he shines as one of the 1930's busiest sidemen ("Nothin' But The Blues", "Troubled"), kicks off the Swing stampede with Benny Goodman ("King Porter Stomp"), skyrockets Tommy Dorsey's band to major success ("Marie", "Song of India"), and debuts his own orchestra ("I Can't Get Started", of course, and many others). You won't find a better overview of Berigan's career on any other single CD.
In the indifferent world of today's music, grab this chance to listen to a real man, filled with real humanity and a pure passion for life, and for music."