Johnny Windhurst

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In the spring of 1945, legendary soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet formed a band to play an extended engagement at the Savoy Café in Boston. He chose the veteran Bunk Johnson to be his trumpeter. The…
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In the spring of 1945, legendary soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet formed a band to play an extended engagement at the Savoy Café in Boston. He chose the veteran Bunk Johnson to be his trumpeter. The irascible Johnson's erratic behavior proved more than Bechet had bargained for, however, so on the basis of a recommendation by members of the Boston Jazz Society he replaced him a few weeks into the gig with the 18-year-old Johnny Windhurst. Windhurst was a self-taught musician, influenced by Bix Beiderbecke and subsequent white trumpeters/cornetists like Bobby Hackett, Wild Bill Davison, and Bunny Berigan. Windhurst had only been playing professionally for a short time when tapped by Bechet, yet he quickly developed a reputation as a fine young musician. He played with the pianists Art Hodes and James P. Johnson at the Jazz at Town Hall concert in September 1946. He worked in Chicago for a time, then moved to California, where he played with clarinetist Edmond Hall. Other employers around this time included Louis Armstrong and Nappy Lamare. He also led his own band in Ohio and Boston, and was a latter day associate of Eddie Condon, playing and recording with the guitarist in the early '50s. He recorded with trumpeter Ruby Braff (1952-1953), singer Barbara Lea (1955-1957), trombonist Jack Teagarden (1955), and vocalist Lee Wiley. Windhurst made Jazz at Columbus Avenue for the Transition label in 1956, the first and only time he recorded under his own name (bassist Buell Neidlinger was a sideman on the date). In the late '50s, Windhurst worked in Ohio and again at Condon's club in New York. Little was heard from him thereafter.