A NOTE TO BLOG VISITORS: I am happy to announce that I and my webmaster Dylan Atkinson, after much hard work, have finally completed a major revision of the format on this website. That will make it easier for me to post new content, and for you to find posts I have made previously, and post your comments. I have been posting recordings of Bunny Berigan’s music on this blog in the best sound possible, along with photos and my commentary, and will continue doing that at regular intervals. So keep checking mrtrumpetbunnyberigan.com because some great things are coming.
This blog will eventually become the go-to place for all Berigan aficionados to find his music in the best sound possible, as many historic images as I can find (with accurate captions), and as much information about Bunny as I can post, after I have rigorously cross-checked as many sources as possible about that information to ensure its accuracy. I welcome your comments and input.
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Mr. Trumpet …The Trials, Tribulations and Triumph of Bunny Berigan by Michael P. Zirpolo
A biography of the jazz trumpeter Roland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan (1908-1942), by Michael P. Zirpolo, was published on October 1, 2011, by Scarecrow Press as a part of its “Studies in Jazz” series, in conjunction with the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University. Its title is: Mr. Trumpet…The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan.
The story of Berigan’s life resembles an ancient Greek tragedy: a heroic figure rises from obscurity to dizzying heights, touches greatness, becomes ensnared by circumstances, some beyond his control, others of his own making, and comes to a disastrous early end. Berigan was very much a man of his time and place, and was intimately involved in the commercial music/dance band/show business milieu of the 1930s and ’40s in New York City and the eastern United States, where he worked. The story of his life necessarily includes an examination of the part of jazz history that is now known as the “Swing Era.” Berigan was a charismatic performer, one of the relatively few musicians in the history of jazz to advance the art. His trumpet artistry made a deep and lasting impression on almost everyone who heard him play. The body of recorded work he left continues to evoke a wide range of emotions in those who hear it.
This biography is an analysis of the life of Bunny Berigan that sets his story in the fullest possible context, and explains many heretofore misunderstood events in both Berigan’s life, and in the Swing Era. The structure of the book is strictly chronological. That allows for an organic development of the exposition of the events of Berigan’s life that can be easily followed and understood by a reader, even one with little or no knowledge of the music and musicians of the Swing Era. There are numerous explanations of Berigan’s music in the book which are as non-technical as possible so they can be understood by the lay reader. Also included are appendices containing lists of all known broadcast/transcription recordings made by Bunny Berigan during the years he led his own bands (1936-1942). Many of these recordings have never been released commercially. There is also an appendix devoted to an explanation of Berigan’s soundtrack recordings for the film Syncopation (1942). The book contains many photos that have never been published previously.
Those having questions about this book can contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoy the music and history of the swing era, check out my blog about that thing called swing, http://swingandbeyond.com/
Thank you so much for bringing back Bunny’s music. It’s a real joy to listen to the music and reading the background info. much appreciated!
Hi, Michael. I believe we touched base awhile ago through Facebook. Thank you for keeping Mr. Berigan’s legacy alive. Very cool. My dad, Don Palmer was his manager at the time of Bunny’s death. I will be ordering the book today. I wish my dad was here to read it. He loved Bunny Berigan.
Mr. Trumpet is an excellent book for anyone who wishes to know information about Bunny’s life. I think every fan of Bunny Berigan should have this book.
I’ve enjoyed Bunny Berigan’s music since 1968, when I started discovering the Swing Era through old records passed on to me by my mother, grandfather and stepfather. Among these were the four-disc 78 rpm “Bunny Berigan Memorial Album” released by RCA Victor, including a cut-down version of “I Can’t Get Started” that removed Berigan’s magisterial introduction to fit the 12-inch original master onto a 10-inch disc. I love Bunny Berigan’s trumpet playing and singing — he came closer to being the white Louis Armstrong than anyone else who tried it (like Wingy Manone, Johnny “Scat” Davis and Louis Prima) — and I hope someday I’ll be able to find your biography of him at a reasonable price. Thanks for helping keep the Berigan musical legacy alive!
Thank You very Much for all Your Hard Work,Ive Loved Berigans Music the First Time I Heard it on 2 cassites I bought at a Record store in Madison Wis ,early 1980s.Then years later I was listening to a local jazz Band.Doc Dehaven ,very Good Band Doc Dehavens Dad played in Berigens Band,Doc Dehavens clarinet Player also did Erle Smith,who I also Met and Talked to.i have many Berigen recordings Now LPS,Cds,cassettes.
Thank you, thank you for all this! He was such an amazing musician. Thanks to your hard work & dedication, these jewels will be preserved forever.
My great-grandmother was a cousin of his. But since her family moved all the way out to Washington Territory around 1900 she probably never met him. In fact my mother didn’t know about the connection until she dug it up in her geneology research.
I had that 12 inch Bunny Berigan record,but it got broke when moving from Canada to US.
Loved it !!
My uncle Hymie Schertzer worked with Bunny . He loved him and knew that Bunny was a great talent. Bunny was a chronic alcoholic. My uncle told me that Bunny kept a flask with a straw on the inside breast pocket of his jacket and sip the booze via a straw. However he played perfect.
I discovered Bunny Berigan in 1968 while working for RCA. The Company store sold records and as a budding trumpeter, I seized upon it and that night , when I listened to
“I Can’t Get Started” I was hooked–the sound, the musicality, the sheer ability to control the air and the instrument was beyond belief. Since then I’ve had a good career on the road as well as teaching in the Public Schools and am going still today adding arranging to my music painter’s caps. I visited Fox Lake once and was inspired to transcribe the arrangement of “I Can’t Get Started”and perform it with one of the big bands I’m privileged to play in. The solo is a tour de Force of trumpet playing because of it’s phrasing, octave jumps, articulations and flexibilty. I recommend it to any trumpet player. Thank you for letting me share this. I also had the good fortune to have played with Les Burness (piano in Bunny’s Band late 30’s) who told me many stories about his time with Bunny.