Elusive Legend of Jazz
The accomplishments of seminal jazz trumpeter Bernard "Bunny" Berigan have secured his place in the annals of American musical history. In his short lifetime, Berigan performed on more than six hundred recordings and achieved national as well as international success. He served as a direct link between Louis Armstrong and those who developed from his roots - Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Wynton Marsalis, and others. Berigan and his soaring trumpet catapulted the Benny Goodman band, along with the rest of the country, into the swing era and assured Goodman's coronation as the "King of Swing." Berigan's uninhibited jazz style inspired and dominated every group with which be played, including the bands of Hal Kemp, Paul Whiteman, and Tommy Dorsey. His great technical skills and instant reading ability made him a coveted studio player for such vocalists as Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Mildred Bailey, and Lee Wiley. During his remarkable career, Berigan not only played with the music industry's giants but became one as well.
Robert Dupuis' Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz is the first comprehensive biography of this jazz great. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Berigan's family, friends, and colleagues, Dupuis presents a fascinating and entertaining look at Berigan's fast-paced career and personal life.
Born in Hilbert, Wisconsin, in 1908, Berigan recognized his love for music at an early age. Introduced to the violin at age six, Berigan took up the trumpet five years later and never looked back.By age thirteen be bad begun playing professionally. In 1925, a move to Madison, Wisconsin, thrust the young Berigan into contact with many influential professionals and enabled him to position himself in the forefront of an elite group of emerging jazz musicians. Berigan's move to New York shortly before the beginning of the Great Depression launched him on the road to success. ln addition to working as a sideman in several popular recording bands, Berigan became a principal player on the CBS radio network. In 1937, be formed his own band and recorded his most famous hit and theme song, I Can't Get Started, which was one of the first recordings inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Over the course of his career, Berigan altered the voice of jazz for all time. One must wonder at the even greater impact be would have made bad be not succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver when be was only thirtythree. Twelve years of excessive consumption of alcohol, coupled with malnutrition and overwork, ended the life of one of this century's greatest trumpeters. In tracing Berigan's heady rise to the top, Dupuis examines not only his many successes but also the events that caused him to be broken in spirit, physically spent, and in financial debt at the time of his death.
Dupuis has painstakingly compiled the most accurate picture available of this great jazz player. He not only preserves the legend of Bunny Berigan but brings it to life for all to enjoy.
(The text is used with permission from its copyright holder, Robert Dupuis.)
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