November 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of jazz trumpet
legend Bunny Berigan. During the month of November 2008, The Virtual
Victrola will feature the music of Bunny Berigan, both as a sideman and
On March 31, 1937, RCA Victor records brought together veteran jazzmen Tommy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan, Fats Waller, Dick McDonough, and George Wettling to record several "jam session" sides for the label.
Jazz historian and author Dick Sudhalter writes,
And indeed they are. Unfortunately, by this time Bunny Berigan had already begun drinking very heavily, and although it had not yet physically affected his playing, his descent into severe alcoholism had already begun to overshadow over his ability to be a responsible and successful bandleader.
But the two sides recorded by this all-star group (with no bass player!) are still a treat. Surprisingly, Tommy Dorsey is probably the weakest pure jazz soloist of the group; yet he turns out two very solid performances. Guitarist Dick McDonough's tricky ascending triplet figure is the highlight of "Honeysuckle Rose," and Berigan's beautiful solo on "Blues" elevates the number in ways that envoke Louis Armstrong's classic "West End Blues."