|Left to right, Lawrence Marrero, George Lewis, Bunk Johnson
|Bunk Johnson is standing, second from left, in this photograph
of the Original Superior Orchestra; date unknown.
|"Bunk Johnson & his New Orleans Band" in New York, 1945
Bunk Johnson was a popular early jazz musician. But he may be better known as one of the
musicians who revived interest in the original style of New Orleans jazz in the 1930's.
From "A Pictorial History of Jazz" by Orrin Keepnews & Bill Grauer:
"These two [Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory] above all, were the major figures of the wave of
'rediscovery', plucked out of obscurity to recreate the jazz of their youth.....a great many
sweeping changes in jazz had come and gone. Many of the early musicians were long forgotten.
Thus it was rather startling when these two very live ghosts from a legendary past appeared on
the scene.....They re-affirmed the early jazz traditions....by demonstrating how much of the
old drive and skill they'd retained and how thoroughly it could capture an audience.
"[After Johnson and Ory were re-discovered] several others were located, too, as jazz writers
and enthusiasts came to the sudden realization that more than a few New Orleans veterans
were still alive. Most of the men who were 'found' were not aware that they'd been 'lost.'
They'd been playing in New Orleans all along, making a meager living at it, or maybe they'd
become stevedores or Pullman porters or farmhands and had just about forgotten that they
were supposed to be jazz immortals....the jazz public owed a debt to the handful of jazz
writers who tracked down these memorable figures from what seemed to be a remote past."
|The resurgence of New Orleans style jazz revived Mr. Johnson's career
and took him all over the country, where people were eager to hear
"real New Orleans jazz." Below, a New York City poster:
Bunk Johnson and his New Orleans Band, featuring
George Lewis, Jim Robinson, Lawrence Marrero,
Baby Dodds, Slow Drag, Alton Purnell
Dancing - Stuyvesant Casino - New York City
|Above, Louis Armstrong and Bunk Johnson;
right, one of the last pictures taken of Bunk
Johnson, not long before he passed away in
New Iberia in 1949.
|Willie "Bunk" Johnson's grave, New Iberia, LA
|Bunk Johnson with his band, 1945