27 March Phantom Dancer – Bunny Berigan and How Disease Effects Legacy


It never ceases to amaze me how disease can over-shadow the brilliant legacy of a person’s life. How much ‘expert’ blather was there about Stephen Hawking’s motor neurone disease as an excuse to avoid explaining and understanding his discoveries in physics? It’s belittling and disrespectful.

Louis Armstrong’s favourite trumpet player was Bunny Berigan. We’ll be hearing radio broadcasts by Bunny Berigan on this week’s The Phantom Dancer.

Even today, seventy years after his death, he is still considered to have been one of the top trumpet players in jazz.

But what I find additionally interesting is how his legacy has been marred by the alcoholism that affected the inventiveness of his playing in the latter part of his short thirty-three years and which ultimately killed him through cirrhosis of the liver.

On this week’s Phantom Dancer you’ll also hear a set of live vintage radio by Dave Brubeck, Jack Teagarden and women singers with their own radio shows – Lee Wiley, Peggy Lee, Dinah Show and Mildred Bailey.

 

THE PHANTOM DANCER is two hours of non-stop swing and jazz mixed from live 1920s – 1960s radio and TV by Greg Poppleton, Australia’s only authentic 1920s-1930s singer www.gregpoppletonmusic.com

Broadcast 12:04pm Tuesdays 107.3 2SER Sydney then over 22 radio stations and online.

HEAR The Phantom Dancer live-streamed and afterwards online on the Radio 2SER website. http://www.2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

HOW DISEASE EFFECTS LEGACY

When jazz musicians talk about Bunny Berigan, his alcoholism always comes up.

‘What might have been had he not drank?’, is usually the most positive musing. But to me, from a music perspective, his illness should have no bearing on his legacy. Surely it’s his trumpet playing and technique that’s important, the music played, the songs composed, the landmark recordings made. Louis Armstrong praised Bunny Berigan’s trumpet sound and jazz ideas both before and after Berigan’s death.

I have known jazz musicians, world-touring, who’ve died after long illnesses. They kept their illnesses private, performing to the very end. Even though everyone knew they were terminally ill, the particulars of their illnesses were never discussed. These musicians had the luxury and the determination to never be defined by their disease. Nowadays, when people talk about them, they talk about their music, the good times and their positive legacy. How they died, their disease, and their substance abuse (in one case) are irrelevancies.

However, other jazz musicians I have known, have had deaths after long, debilitating illnesses during which time it was impossible to perform. Others have died suddenly – a heart attack, an overdose, a bleed. Always, these musicians are discussed in terms of their deaths, their creative life work overshadowed by the fabula of their failing health or their fatal surprise.

I guess it’s easier to talk about sickness and death than music. The musical process is a specialist field. Feeling poorly and falling off the perch is something on which everyone has an expert opinion.

BUNNY BERIGAN…
…was the stage name of Roland Bernard Berigan.

He composed, sang, and most famously was a brilliant trumpet player. Of his compositions, we’ll hear a live recording of one, ‘Chicken and Waffles’, from a live 1936 radio broadcast on this week’s Phantom Dancer.

He was best known for his virtuoso jazz trumpeting. His 1937 classic recording of a song from a flop music, ‘I Can’t Get Started’ (which we’ll also hear in two live 1930s versions on this week’s Phantom Dancer) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975. ‘I Can’t Get Started’ was Berigan’s radio theme when he launched his own band in 1937.

Bunny Berigan had learnt violin and trumpet and was playing in local bands by his mid-teens. In 1930 he joined the Hal Kemp Orchestra and soon came to notice. He became a sought-after studio musician in New York as well as playing in the orchestras of Freddy Rich, Freddy Martin, Ben Selvin, Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman. In fact, Goodman’s manager only got ‘that ace drummer man’ Gene Krupa to join the band by telling him Berigan was already on board.

After leaving Goodman, Berigan began to record regularly under his own name and to back singers such as Bing Crosby, Mildred Bailey, and Billie Holiday. We’ll hear him this week with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in early 1937. His solo on ‘Marie’ became one of his signature performances. We’ll hear a 1940 radio version. And, of course, a critic describing Berigan’s trumpet on the 1940 show had to bring up his alcoholism.

After leaving Goodman, Berigan began to record regularly under his own name and to back singers such as Bing Crosby, Mildred Bailey, and Billie Holiday. We’ll hear him this week with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in early 1937. His solo on ‘Marie’ became one of his signature performances. We’ll hear a 1940 radio version. And, of course, a critic describing Berigan’s trumpet on the 1940 show had to bring up his alcoholism.

MUSICAL ADVICE FROM BERIGAN
And instrumentalists PLEASE TAKE NOTE. There’s nothing more irritating to a singer than an instrumentalist taking too much air during the singer’s solo, or cramping the singer’s freedom of expression by trying to steer the improvisation…

Your Phantom Dancer Bunny Berrigan singing and playing trumpet on ‘Until Today’ with Freddy Rich’s Orchestra in 1936 . Enjoy!

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #308

107.3 2SER Tuesday 20 March 2018
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT)
National Program:
ArtSoundFM Canberra Sunday 7 – 8pm
and early morning on 22 other stations.

Set 1
Swing on 1940s Radio
Theme + Girl of My Dreams
Randy Brooks Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Ballroom NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
17 Nov 1945
K.C. Caboose + Are You Happy?
John Kirby Sextet
‘One Night Stand’
Aquarium Restaurant NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
18 Jul 1944
They Didn’t Believe Me + Blue Moon (Close)
Eliot Lawrence Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Ballroom NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
26 Jul 1945
Set 2
Big Bands on 1950s Radio
Theme + I’m Walking
Johnny Richards Orchestra
‘ABC Dancing Party’
Birdland
WABC ABC NYC
1957
If I Had You
Ted Heath Orchestra
‘International Bandstand’
London
NBC/BBC
2 Mar 1959
It’s All In The Game
Ray Anthony Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Pennsylvania
AFRS Re-broadcast
1952
Set 3
Bing Crosby Radio
Open + Pistol Packin’ Mama
Bing Crosby
‘Kraft Music Hall’
KFI NBC LA
16 Dec 1943
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra
Bing Crosby
’Philco Radio Time’
KECA ABC LA
19 Nov 1947
Ukulele Lady + Green Grow The Lilacs + Close
Bing Crosby + Rosemary Clooney (2nd song)
’Bing Crosby-Rosemary Clooney Show’
KNX CBS LA
19 Oct 1961
Set 4
Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street
Open + Dixieland One-Step
Henry Levine Octet
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NY
1 Sep 1941
O Sussanah
Diane Courtney
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NY
1 Sep 1941
Cheery-Beery-Bee
The Tune Toppers
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NY
1 Sep 1941
Dangerous Mood
Paul Lavalle Woodwinds
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NY
1 Sep 1941
Set 5
Trombonist Jack Teagarden
Announcer’s Blues
Paul Whiteman Orchestra
‘Paul Whiteman’s Music Varieties’
WJZ NBC Blue NY
19 jan 1936
Mr Jessie
Jack Teagarden Orchestra
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman
WMAQ NBC Chicago
22 Nov 1941
You Took Advantage of Me + Tea For Two + Close
The Three T’s (Jack and Charlie Teagarden and Frank Trambauer)
Hickory House
WEAF NBC Red NY
9 Dec 1936
(1936 Home Recording)
Wolverine Blues + Close
Jack Teagarden Orchestra
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman
WMAQ NBC Chicago
27 Dec 1941
Set 6
Women Singers With Their Own Radio shows
Somebody Loves Me
Peggy Lee
‘Peggy Lee Show’
KNX CBS LA
1947
Beg Your Pardon
Dinah Shore
‘Dinah Shore Show’
KNX CBS LA
4 May 1948
Too Good To Be True
Lee Wiley
‘Lee Wiley Sings’
WABC CBS NY
1 Jul 1936
Summertime
Mildred Bailey
‘Mildred Bailey Show’
WABC CBS NY
12 Jan 1945
Set 7
Bunny Berigan
I Can’t Get Started (theme) + Organ Grinder’s Swing
Bunny Berigan Orchestra
‘Norge Program’
Radio Transcription
New York City
1937
I Can’t Get Started (theme) + Ay, Ay, Ay
Bunny Berigan Orchestra
Manhattan Centre
WNEW NY
26 Sep 1939
Marie
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Bunny Berigan tp feature)
Meadowbrook Ballroom
Cedar Grove NJ
WABC CBS NY
9 Mar 1940
Runnin’ Wild + Chicken and Waffles
Bunny Berigan Orchestra
‘Saturday Night Swing Club’
WABC CBS NY
31 Oct 1936
Set 8
Dave Brubeck
This Can’t Be Love
Dave Brubeck
Aircheck
Jan 1954
The Song Is For You
Dave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NY
Mar 1957
Stardust
Dave Brubeck
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Birdland
WJZ ABC NY
Dec 1953
All The Things You Are
Dave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NY
Feb 1956

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