Bunny Berigan: The Miracle Man of Swing
Bunny Berigan’s famous solos with Benny Goodman’s and Tommy Dorsey’s bands can be found on many collections of the music of those two groups. Among these are Tommy Dorsey: Greatest Hitson RCA/BMG (which includes “Song of India” and “Marie”) and Benny Goodman: The Centennial Collection, also on RCA (with “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “King Porter Stomp”).
The best single collection of Berigan’s greatest work with Goodman, Dorsey, Bunny’s own big band and a variety of other groups is Bunny Berigan: The Pied Piper, 1934-1940, on RCA/Bluebird. Among the goodies in this collection are: “Nothin’ But the Blues” with Gene Gifford; “Sometimes I’m Happy” and “King Porter Stomp” with Goodman; “Song of India,” Marie,” and Liebestraum” with Dorsey; and “I Can’t Get Started,” “The Prisoner’s Song,” Trees,” “Russian Lullaby” and “The Wearin’ of the Green” with the Berigan big band. It is currently out of print, but should still be available from various sources.
One collection on the Collectables label, Bunny Berigan: Bunny; Bunny Berigan and His Boys, has twelve cuts from Bunny’s big band from 1937-39 and twelve more tracks from small group dates from 1936-37. The best known of the Berigan big band recordings are on another Collectables collection, Bunny Berigan: “I Can’t Get Started.”
Although the limited edition The Complete Brunswick, Parlophone and Vocalion Bunny Berigan Sessionson Mosaic Records is out of print, one can find it in some libraries. It is a treasure trove of recordings of Berigan’s session work of the mid- 1930s – seven CDs worth. Here Berigan can be heard on sessions led by such notables as the Dorsey Brothers, the Boswell Sisters, Mildred Bailey, Adrian Rollini, Red Norvo, Glenn Miller, the Mound City Blue Blowers, Billie Holiday and Bud Freeman, as well as many lesser lights of the jazz and pop world of 1930s New York. It also includes a number of sessions under Berigan’s name.