Album: The Last Testament of a Great New Orleans Jazzman
Artist: Bunk Johnson
Recorded at Carnegie Hall in December of 1947, this album, as the title suggests, is the last testament of a great New Orleans jazzman. The legendary Bunk Johnson would die from a stroke one year later. He was 69-years-old. Although this casts a dour mood over the proceedings, The Last Testament of a New Orleans Jazzman is still a joyous celebration of high-stepping Dixieland and primitive ragtime blues.
An influence upon a young Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson was one of jazz music’s original inventors in the early 1900s. He played trumpet throughout Louisiana until he got his teeth knocked out in 1931, prompting an early retirement. A critical re-appraisal by the likes of Armstrong and Sidney Bechet helped revive Johnson’s career, and his comeback coincided with the late-’40s Dixieland Revival.
The Last Testament is beautiful jazz nostalgia, and Johnson remains true to his original essence — an authentic New Orleans sound circa 1908. Other early jazz innovators like Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton unfortunately didn’t live long enough to deliver a large recorded output (Morton did release some seminal recordings in the 1920s, however), so Johnson’s Last Testament is a rare opportunity to hear the origins of jazz bottled straight from the source.
Bunk Johnson’s The Last Testament of a Great New Orleans Jazzman has received the following Colin’s Review accolades: