Bunk Johnson

Last Testament

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Bunk Johnson had a rather unlikely career. Completely forgotten and out of music by the late '30s, he was given a new set of teeth and a trumpet and hailed as a legend. Johnson made an impressive comeback, but excessive drinking resulted in an erratic and short-lived career. Both overpraised by some and dismissed by others, Johnson was actually a fine player when he was at his best. His final recording, which appears here along with two alternate takes, was arguably his best. Utilizing more modern players (trombonist Ed Cuffee, clarinetist Garvin Bushell, pianist Don Kirkpatrick, guitarist Danny Barker, bassist Wellman Braud, and drummer Alphonse Steele) than his usual New Orleans band, Johnson performed a wide variety of music, ranging from folk songs and swing standards (such as "Out of Nowhere" and "You're Driving Me Crazy") to some rags (most notably "The Entertainer"). Throughout, Johnson sounds at the top of his game, making this his definitive release.

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