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Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan (Studies in Jazz (Numbered)) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 29. September 2011

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Bunny Berigan was one of the magnificent jazz soloists of the 1930s. After arriving in New York from Wisconsin, his yeoman work in the recording studios and brief but significant stints with the bands of Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey led to milestone recordings and enough notoriety for the star trumpeter to start his own big band. The band's failure can be attributed to Berigan's ignorance of how the business worked, and probably to his concurrent and increasingly destructive alcoholism, which led to his death at the age of only 33. This encyclopedic volume painstakingly documents Berigan's entire life and career. Zirpolo built on Robert Dupuis's commendable Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz (CH, Jul'93, 30-6086), and he benefits from extensive research completed since that time, particularly a collection of materials gathered by "Bozy" White. The amount of detail in Zirpolo's account may be overwhelming for a casual reader (extended notes profile many figures of the swing era), but serious fans and scholars will appreciate this definitive biography. The White materials are also scheduled to lead to a biodiscography--a discography being notably absent from the present volume. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers who are students or aficionados of jazz. CHOICE A fine addition to your jazz library. Jazz Journal From time to time, the opportunity comes along to praise the dedication and hard work of a respected acquaintance. This is an especially pleasant opportunity when a book exceeds the already high expectations that one may have had in advance of publication. Knowing the writer and the subject matter led me to expect nothing but the best and most informative read. However, having read and considered the contents of the work, I can enthusiastically say that I have just finished an impressive work of professional scholarship that will stand as one of the rare and essential histories of jazz and the big band era. Examiner This book is, no doubt, the last word on Berigan. At 550 pages it is an impressive body of work, thoroughly researched and, befitting its subject, never dull. Jersey Jazz From now on, everyone writing about the great swing and big band trumpeter Bunny Berigan will have to refer to this book. When they do, they just might realize that they should pick out another jazzman to write about: Berigan is covered. Mr. Trumpet is and will be for a long time the definitive biography of this wonderful musician. ... he has done his homework and has created a book that every Bunny Berigan fan will want to keep on their shelves for repeated readings, as well as a book that casual fans of the music of the swing years, the late '20s and '30s, will devour like a slice of lemon meringue pie. ... Mr. Trumpet takes us inside not just a man's life but a whole world that we know only superficially. It's a story worth the telling and a world worth the seeing. Rambles Michael Zirpolo's book is an immense blessing: it is the book on Bunny Berigan that we have been waiting for. Every page has a new story - funny, revealing, or sad - about this man who threw himself into his music so wholeheartedly that he played more in his brief lifetime than six or seven other (more well-behaved) musicians. But the book is also a Wicked Tempter, so beware! I have it on my kitchen table and whenever I walk by, Mr. Trumpet beckons to me. I read two pages, entranced, and I have to tear myself away by brute force to get on with the less entrancing parts of everyday life. Intoxicating, addictive, a good read, a page-turner ... you name it. I wanted to say this now, right away, so that others could get hooked, too! -- Michael Steinman Jazz Lives There have been intelligent articles, commentary, books, and record liner notes about Bunny Berigan in the past, but this new, panoramic biography by Michael P. Zirpolo easily surpasses all previous efforts... Throughout the 550 pages and 25 chapters, Zirpolo provides, in an interesting narrative, all the necessary facts, and gives the work a proper and thorough context--something that has often been lacking in other book-length writings about the big bands. While as knowledgeable a swing aficionado as they come, he retains the objectivity needed to write the definitive biography of Berigan, and tells his story with understanding, compassion, and respect. (Zirpolo) recognized the scope of Berigan's talents, the importance of his artistic achievements, and his standing in the big band business way beyond the classic recording of 'I Can't Get Started.' Significantly, he explains or corrects many heretofore misunderstood events in Berigan's life... including how Berigan became an alcoholic, why his marriage was unsuccessful, the nature of his friendship with Tommy Dorsey, and his relationship with Music Corporation of America (MCA)." From cover to cover, Zirpolo's book has raised the jazz scholarship bar, and deserves a spot on the bookshelf along such pioneering and esteemed writers as Walter C. Allen, Whitney Balliett, John Chilton, D. Russell Connor, Stanley Dance, Chip Deffaa, Charles Delauney, Leonard Feather, John Flower, Edward F. Polic, Brian Rust, Gunther Schuller, Chris Sheridan, George T. Simon (whom, by the way, Zirpolo takes issue with for Simon's sometimes less-than-enthusiastic reviews of Berigan's talents), Richard M. Sudhalter, and Leo Walker. Big Band Library rating: Supremely Excellent -- Christopher Popa Big Band Library From time to time, the opportunity comes along to praise the dedication and hard work of a respected acquaintance. This is an especially pleasant opportunity when a book exceeds the already high expectations that one may have had in advance of publication...This book is the comprehensive and indispensable biography of Roland Bernard "Bunny" Berigan. The author is Michael Zirpolo. Anyone interested in Bunny Berigan, his contemporaries, jazz and big band history will be riveted to this book from the moment that they open it. Michael Zirpolo has captured the essence of his subject. Not only does Michael's love and respect for Bunny create a very enjoyable read, his attention to detail and precision result in a most informative, thorough and balanced tour-de-force. The biography includes numerous previously unpublished photographs and a comprehensive broadcast discography. Michael Zirpolo has captured the story of Bunny Berigan in an entertaining and informative read. I will not go on and give away all the details or the plot but suffice to say that there are revelations and surprises. My personal experience has been that with this book my understanding of an essential personality and talent of jazz and big band history has come to life in way that my superficial and anecdotal knowledge of the man from other accounts and recordings had never done justice to. I suspect that everyone else interested in the subject matter will come away feeling the same way. -- Dennis M. Spragg, Glenn Miller Archive, American Music Research Center With Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan, Michael P. Zirpolo has established himself as the major authority on this great musician. Access to the massive archive of Berigan materials that Bozy White spent a half century collecting served Zirpolo well, for he plumbed it thoroughly, compiling a definitive record of Bunny's professional life and using quotes from published reviews and interviews with those who worked with this trumpeter and bandleader to personalize his 520-page biography of a musician whom many, musicians and fans alike, would do well to familiarize themselves with. -- W. Royal Stokes

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Michael Zirpolo has been a practicing attorney since 1975. He has written numerous articles and presented many times on jazz musicians and the development of jazz from 1925 to 1960. He has served as a guest on radio programs and has digitally remastered vintage jazz recordings.


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A Great Artist...A Great Book 27. November 2011
Von Richard Claar - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Bing Crosby was the first multi-media superstar, supremely triumphant on radio, records, stage, and screen. If its development hadn't been delayed by WWII, he undoubtedly would have excelled in television as well.

In a world where this man, one of the most popular and influential artists of the preceding century, is now barely remembered, what are the chances for the likes of Bunny Berigan, a trumpet player who died almost 70 years ago? Better than one might think, thanks in no small measure to a masterful new biography that should pique interest and open ears. Published by Scarecrow Press, Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations and Triumph of Bunny Berigan, is the work of Michael P. Zirpolo, a practicing attorney and jazz and swing connoisseur and scribe par excellence from Canton, Ohio.

Berigan was one of Crosby's contemporaries, colleagues (they recorded together on several occasions) and equals, at least in the realm of talent. Very few, of course, know the name now. But many would recognize his incomparable version of a particular song that I could mention (and will), one that pops up regularly in film and television as an evocation of the late 1930s and a certain sort of bittersweet yearning or loss.

Bunny deserves to be in the pantheon, a member of any hall of fame that would celebrate the Great American Songbook, its composers and practitioners, especially the jazz contingent. He was a magnificent, one-of-a-kind trumpet player, possessed of prodigious technique, almost reckless daring and imagination, and deep, sincere soul. He was a bandleader of considerable skill, despite reports to the contrary, and also sang on occasion, in an unpretentious and charming manner.

He played with the cream of jazz musicians of the 1930s and early '40s, including on record and in live performances, with Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Artie Shaw, et al. He also enlivened countless commercial recordings with his fearless, emotional and exciting trumpeting, sides that would otherwise have been consigned to the nostalgia scrap heap long ago. No less an authority than Louis Armstrong named Bunny as a particular favorite.

Bunny Berigan died, at a very young age, in 1942.

Most people at this writing know Bunny Berigan, his music if not his name, as a result of his passionate, definitive rendition of a song titled "I Can't Get Started,." A sort of trumpet concerto with a movingly vulnerable vocal, it transformed a moderately successful song written by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin for the show the Zeigfeld Follies of 1936 (introduced by Bob Hope of all people), into a perennial favorite. Once heard, it is not easily forgotten.

The performance encapsulates the wonder and majesty of Bunny Berigan's playing, a demonstration of both his mastery of the entire range of his horn and his (and our own) emotions, ranging from despondency to exultation, all in the space of 5 minutes. A piece of music for the ages, Berigan's 1937 Victor recording of "I Can't Get Started" is as good as anything Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Jack Teagarden, Bix, Lester Young or Charlie Parker ever played.

But there was a lot more to Bunny Berigan's music, life and times than this one memorable recording. At long last, it is explored in depth, from all angles, in Zirpolo's massive new biography. The book is a must for the vintage jazz aficionado, but it is not just for the cognoscenti. Anyone who is concerned with the human condition, a fascinating and long-vanished era of music and entertainment, the battle of commerce vs. creativity during the fabled Big Band Era, careless love and downhearted blues will be interested in reading Mr. Trumpet.

But I have yet to mention the 800 lb. gorilla in the room of Bunny Berigan's life. He drank. A lot.

He was dubbed the Miracle Man of Swing by a press agent. It is facile but true to state that it was often a miracle he could play at all in the condition he was usually in, suffering from the effects of alcoholism, other debilitating ailments (related and not) and exhaustion. Berigan himself, when asked how he did it, supposedly replied that he "practiced when he was loaded." This, of course, was an era when alcoholism was scarcely recognized as a disease or an affliction, when it was regarded as more of a loveable, tolerable weakness or even a joke (see W.C. Fields, of whom Bunny reportedly did a spot on impression).

Berigan's battles with the bottle are not skirted or glossed over in Zirpolo's book. In fact, they are more thoroughly covered here than in previous examinations of Bunny's life, with accuracy and compassion. But it is also very clearly revealed that there was much more to his premature demise than alcoholism.

There is a lot of information in Mr. Trumpet that is new or previously unrevealed. In addition, from where, when and whom all the details in the book were obtained is clearly attributed. The usual assumptions, myths and legends are not repeated in Zirpolo's book. If it's not substantiated, it's not reported. Seldom have I encountered such attention to sourcing, verification and detail in general. And Zirpolo's notes, addendum, and marginalia are illuminating and fascinating, invaluable: Berigan's milieu comes into crystal clarity as never before.

One reaches for superlatives when attempting to portray Bunny's playing and its emotional impact. Like all art, it is better experienced than described. But Zirpolo does better than most. One also struggles when it comes to Michael Zirpolo's new book about Bunny.

As good as Robert Dupuis's Berigan bio of a decade or so ago was (and it was very good indeed), Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations and Triumph of Bunny Berigan by Michael P. Zirpolo is nothing short of definitive. A scholarly work that was meticulously researched, it is also immensely entertaining.

I could not be more enthusiastic or recommend more heartily this heartbreaking but ultimately inspirational recounting of Berigan's star-crossed life. His music still moves and swings and inspires. That it is still enjoyed and cherished is the triumph.
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Mighty impressive 11. November 2012
Von Tom Buhmann - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Michael P. Zirpolo's biography"Mr. Trumpet, The trials, tribulations and triumph of Bunny Berigan" is a book with a remarkable history. American researcher Cedric Kingsley "Bozy" White had together with a research team for almost 50 years painstakingly collected information on the legendary trumpeter Bunny Berigan. As many who are involved in labour of love-projects, he was never quite satisfied that it was ready for publication, but he had been persuaded to begin the publication process when he disappeared in 2004. After 2 months Bozy White's body was discovered in the basement of his own house, and a lady tenant in his house was later prosecuted for his murder.

Bozy White's research was saved and through the service of friends of his it ended up in the hands of American lawyer and jazz writer Michael P. Zirpolo, who has done a fantastic job editing the enormous amounts of information (rumoured to be between 1000 and 2000 pages) and adding his own research. The result is this 550 pages book which in clear and very readable writing covers every possible aspect of Bunny Berigan's trials, tribulations and triumphs. It is obvious, that the author is a dedicated fan, but in spite of this he manages to keep the necessary distance to describe Berigan's self-destructive streak.

Many musical biographies describe their subject and the music as a self-reliant phenomenon. The possibly most valuable aspect of Michael P. Zirpolo's book is that he draws a constant line to the conditions in the music business environment that you had to tackle if you were leading a big band in the US in the 1930ties and points out how decisive these conditions were for success or failure.

"Mr. Trumpet" contains an almost day-to-day band schedule and many knowledgeable analyses of the musical performances of Bunny Berigan and his bandsmen. Some readers would maybe prefer to have the schedules and the analysis separated from the biographical text, but that is a minor quibble. Michael P. Zirpolo's Berigan-biography is under all circumstances an impressive piece of work, which is wholeheartedly recommended.

Tom Buhmann
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In the inerests of fairness 20. November 2012
Von alvin i apfelberg - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan (Studies in Jazz)
In the interests of fairness, I thought a reply to the comments of Thomas Bumbera was in order.
First, Mr. Bumbera's comments are in no way a review of "Mr. Trumpet...the Trials, Tribulations and Triumph of Bunny Berigan" by Michael P. Zirpolo. They refer to nothing in the book. They are his unsubstantiated conclusions and opinions. Although he is certainly entitled to his opinions, to elevate them to the level of a book review is a mistake.
Second, for him to criticize this book that clearly is a biography, because it does not contain "the long-long awaited discography based on the White research" makes absolutely no sense. If Mr..Bumbera had bothered to read the book' s introduction, he would have seen this sentence. "As this is being written, the White materials are being readied for publication as a Bunny Berigan bio-discography" Clearly, Mr. Zirpolo never intended to preempt the White materials. The book was never intended to be a discography, and is not advertised as a discography. It is a biography and is advertised as such.
Mr. Bumbera states that "Zirpolo's book is nowhere near as colorful or entertaining a read as the much less expensive book by Robert Dupuis which I heartily recommend." I will not be drawn into the game of invidious comparison. If someone is interested in the Dupuis Berigan biography, it is still in print. (It was first published in 1993). It is for sale on Amazon, and has received some customer reviews(not including Mr. Bumbera).
I will say however, that Michael Zirpolo"s biography of Bunny Berigan contains much more information about the subject than the Dupuis book. It also contains infinitely more context so the reader can understand the world in which Berigan lived and worked. And the end notes in "Mr. Trumpet" are extensive and most enlightening. To me, they alone are worth the book's retail price. Beyond all of this, the book is a serious , well-written scholarly biography based on a huge amount of research. That does not mean that is that it is in any way solemn. It is a very colorful and entertaining, a joy to read. Although many amusing anecdotes are related by Mr. Zirpolo all of them are seamlessly woven into the story of Berigan's life .I can't imagine that anyone who is interested in Bunny Berigan or the swing era could be disappointed by this book. All of the reviews of "Mr. Trumpet" except Mr. Bumbera's are favorable. Some call this book definitive. (They can be read on the book's website [...]). I agree with those thoughtful and comprehensive reviews.
I hope that my comments have provided some balance to those posted by Mr. Bumbera.
Alvin Apfelberg
Las Vegas, Nevada
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Great trumpet player, Great Book, My Compliments to Zirpolo 9. Dezember 2013
Von RJS - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
The only reason I'm not giving the book five stars is because it really could have been edited down. And, alas, it needs an index of the tunes mentioned in the text.

Having said that, I really must take my hat off to Zirpolo. I've been listening to Bunny since I was a kid in the 1950s. Like a lot of aspiring trumpet players, I listened to Can't Get Started and wondered why I couldn't do that. Heh. No one (well, maybe Shorty Sherock, who is credited with the recreation on Themes of the Great Brands (the studio version of Casa Loma in the 1950s and 1960s) could, but Shorty had the misfortune of getting fired so that Roy Eldridge could take his chair with Krupa. No shame there, either way). I've read Dupuis' biography of Bunny and found it interesting. But, really, this is got to be the definitive life of Berigan, if not for good, then for the next 25 years. It's all here, or, at least, probably as much as you can reasonably expect to find out about a guy from rural Wisconsin who Harry James said was the greatest trumpet player in the world when he was new on the scene. Or about whom Armstrong raved.

I talked to a certain number of people who heard Berigan play--many years ago, of course. It's amazing how many had the reaction to him that Zirpolo's father did, which is recounted in the biography. Simply unbelievable, or words to that effect. Top studio musicians in LA did indeed talk about that breathtaking leap Bunny made in Wearin' of the Green--because I knew a guy who made his livelihood playing swing who, in fact, told me just that. And Zirpolo has the good sense to defer to Dick Sudhalter, whose taste in trumpet players is that of the literate, trained variety on many of Bunny's solos. I never realized that Bunny played so much of his own lead when he had his orchestra, but as soon as Zirpolo pointed this out, I listened, and sure enough, I could hear him come in over his own capable lead, Steve Lipkins. Oh, boy.

If you want a musicologist's take on Berrigan, go look at Gunther Schuller: Bunny's big solos are notated and analyzed there. But with a lone reference to Berigan's catastrophic alcoholism and emotional turmoil, there is no Bunny the person. He comes through here, or at least, far more of him than you thought you could know. All the David Copperfield stuff, to paraphrase Salinger, but an awful lot more--probably too much detail on gigs, recording sessions, one nighters and the rest. But the overall picture is compelling. A picture of the band business and its finances I never really understood. A picture of the commercial pressures that playing junk to make a living had on the aesthetic sensibilities of a great artist. A picture of how a less-than-disciplined sideman put together an under-appreciated orchestra that, if not quite Shaw or Goodman or the Dorseys', was more than passable. And just enough of Bunny's tangled personal life to explain some of his obvious conflict--which came out in the ballad playing. This is important because the lurid and lewd tales about Bunny, or Bunny and Lee Wiley, are out there if you want to find them. But, thankfully, Zirpolo mostly leaves them alone: and even without them, you know, the Bunny, ex-altarboy, was no choirboy. Eventually, you get caught up in the grip of Bunny's descent--the tragedy, Zirpolo suggests--into n-stage alcoholism. If it leaves you unmoved, well, you're tougher than I am.

I'd have like to have known more about Bunny's chops, his technique, the horns he played (it sounds as if he was remarkably casual in his choice of equipment), you know, trumpet player, stuff. But that may be gone for good, and the book is awfully long at over 500 pages anyway. I guess I'll never know what the Trump mouthpiece he endorsed was, which is probably a good thing. I almost ruined myself trying to play the Parduba that James used. Most readers won't care about that stuff.

I've been going back to relearn Bunny oeuvre, now widely available, with Zirpolo's book in my hand. He does a great job and I'm learning a lot. This is really a reference book on Bunny Berigan I and II. Believe me, if you're a serious student of swing music, trumpet playing, or just the cultural life of the 1930s, you have to read this book. You won't be sorry, even if it isn't perfect. It's subject wasn't either, and look what he left us.
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Bunny Berigan 23. Mai 2013
Von wayne colburn - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I loved this book on Bunny Berigan life and work as a jazz brought to life what Bunny was as a jazz trumpet player in the big band era.The writer Michael P Zipolo took great care to uncover the truth about Bunny Berigan and made it so very interesting.I also got a lot out his book because Bunny being my Grandfather ,i got a chance to get to know him through this great book. Wayne Colburn
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