The Pied Piper

Bunny Berigan

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The Pied Piper Review

by Scott Yanow

This is the best single-CD compilation of Bunny Berigan recordings issued to date. Although all of the trumpeter's big-band sides for Bluebird have come out on three double LPs, this set gives more general collectors a better overview of his talents. One of the top trumpeters active during the 1935-1939 period (only Louis Armstrong and the up-and-coming Roy Eldridge were on his level), Berigan was largely responsible for the success of important hit records for Benny Goodman ("King Porter Stomp" and "Sometimes I'm Happy") and Tommy Dorsey ("Marie" and "Song of India"), in addition to having a best-seller of his own ("I Can't Get Started"). Unfortunately, Berigan's alcoholism eventually did him in, but this CD has all of the hits, plus appearances with Gene Gifford's Orchestra (a majestic solo on "Nothin' but the Blues"), Frankie Trumbauer, jamming with Fats Waller, and with the Metronome All-Stars, plus more titles as a leader, with BG, and with Dorsey (including a radio broadcast version of "I've Found a New Baby" from 1940). This is a well-conceived reissue of important and often exciting swing by one of the greats.

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