(and perhaps by extension the early Ellington band). As these 25 tracks demonstrate, Dunn channeled a small but effective repertoire of licks and telling use of repeated phrases through a penetrating yet rounded tone, illuminated on this release through Frog's typically excellent transfers. He provides a powerful lead over the thick ensemble on "Hallelujah Blues" as well as "Sergeant Dunn's Bugle Call Blues," while his solos on "Hawaiian Blues" and "Dixie Blues" alternate bluesy lyricism with slick double-time. "I Promised Not to Holler But Hey Hey!" preaches to the skies but "Dunn's Cornet Blues" exemplifies his overall controlled (at times borderline cautious) approach.
The bulk of this disc features Dunn dominating his own groups as well as two accompanied cornet features. Four sides with a London show band are more heavily arranged but maintain a peppy beat with room for Dunn's trumpet. He loosens up considerably for five tunes with Jelly Roll Morton
As for Dunn's obscurity, when jazz historians have paid Dunn any attention it's mostly focused on the tense rhythm and strong attack evidencing his military background. Those accustomed to looser, digitally recorded jazz may also need a track or two to adjust. Yet these are just stylistic aspects of some very unique and expressive improvisations. Dunn's jazz is still jazz, no matter how much work that kid Armstrong was getting.
Track Listing: Bugle Blues; Birmingham Blues; Hawaiian Blues; Four O'Clock Blues; Hallelujah Blues; Spanish Dreams; Dixie Blues; Sugar Blues; Sweet Lovin' Mama; Vamping Sal the Sheba of Georgia; Jazzin' Babies; I Promised Not to Holler But Hey Hey!; Dunn's Cornet Blues; You've Never Heard the Blues; Silver Rose; Arabella's Wedding Day; Smiling Joe; For Baby and Me; Sergeant Dunn's Bugle Call Blues [Take 1]; Sergeant Dunn's Bugle Call Blues [Take 2]; Ham and Eggs; Buffalo Blues; You Need Some Loving; What's the Use of Being Alone?; Original Bugle Blues.
Personnel: Johnny Dunn: trumpet, cornet; Jelly Roll Morton: piano (19-23); James P. Johnson: piano (24-25); Fats Waller: piano (24-25).