Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz

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9780807130681: Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz
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The accomplishments of seminal jazz trumpeter Bernard "Bunny" Berigan have secured his place in the annals of American music history. In his short lifetime (1908--1942), Berigan performed on more than six hundred recordings and served as a direct link between Louis Armstrong and later musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, and Wynton Marsalis. Berigan lent his uninhibited jazz style to the big bands of Benny Goodman, Hal Kemp, and Tommy Dorsey, and he was in demand as a studio musician for vocalists Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, and Mildred Bailey. In addition to playing for the music industry's giants, Berigan became one himself by forming his own band in 1937 and recording his most famous hit and theme song, "I Can't Get Started." In the first comprehensive biography of Berigan, Robert Dupuis draws on hundreds of interviews with family, friends, and colleagues to present a fascinating and entertaining look at the fast-paced career and personal life of this jazz great.

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About the Author:

P>Robert Dupuis is a former contributing editor to the reference book series Contemporary Musicians and a retired public school administrator. He lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A jazz trumpeter's dream, the long-awaited (for 50 years) biography of the greatest white trumpet-player of the century. What Michigan-based jazz scholar Dupuis lacks in stylishness is more than made up for by his relentless search for the wellsprings of the Berigan horn's Irish gaiety, growls, and tone. How did Bunny Berigan (1908-42) come up with such a swinging, colossal, fat, velvety sound? Others have had a piercing or big ringing brilliance, but Berigan's tone luxuriated with cream far into the topmost register and deep into the laziest barrel notes- -and he often played that way for 70 hours a week. Dupuis says that Berigan favored his lower lip, resting the horn lightly on it, with vibrato from the jaw and diaphragm, not from pressure or from shaking the horn. The story of Berigan's life is pretty much the legend: young man with horn, beloved by all and gifted by the angels, felled by booze at 33. Some Berigan buddies deny his liquor problem. But Berigan himself, when asked how he could play so well while smashed, replied, ``I practice drunk.'' Dupuis makes a richly documented case for Berigan's genetic inheritance of alcoholism, and he movingly shows the hornplayer's supportless, pre-A.A. battle against it. During Berigan's final months, a fellow bandsman heard the cirrhotic hornman sob, ``I'm too young to die!'' Things we didn't know include his adulterous affair with snake-eyed singer and bandleader-groupie Lee Wiley. During Berigan's last days, we watch the musician hallucinate, with his horn beating off figures in a delirium. A book that belongs in every hornplayer's case, along with a picture of Louis Armstrong. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr, 1993
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