Cornet Blues

Cornet Blues

by Johnny Dunn


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Cornetist Johnny Dunn made his first recordings under the auspices of cabaret blues singer Mamie Smith, more or less leading the band that accompanied her and cutting quite a number of instrumental recordings as well. Whether the group was called Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds or Johnny Dunn's Original Jazz Hounds, it represented one of the first African American bands to make records on a regular basis. When Dunn's complete works were reissued on compact disc by RST and Document in the 1990s, the material fit onto two CDs because virtually everything he recorded in collaboration with singing actress Edith Wilson was included. Released in 2000 by the Frog label, Cornet Blues focuses upon Dunn's instrumentals with a small sampling of Perry Bradford's singing thrown in for good measure. Dunn, a master of both bugling and muted effects, is heard in the company of reedman Garvin Bushell, trombonist Herb Fleming, a banjoist named Sam Speed, as well as pianists Leroy Tibbs, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, and Fats Waller. This album is packed with delightfully antiquated dance music and hot jazz. An even more complete edition would combine all of the Jazz Hound instrumentals released under both Smith's and Dunn's names, but that compendium (which would comfortably fill two CDs) has yet to materialize.

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