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Johnny Dunn (1897-1937)
Johnny DunnBefore Louis Armstrong left Chicago to join Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra in 1924, Johnny Dunn (February 19, 1897 – August 20, 1937) was considered the king of New York’s Jazz trumpet players. Dunn was discovered in Memphis by W.C. Handy in 1916 and worked for him until he left in 1920 to take over Blues singer Mamie Smith’s Jazz Hounds. When Dunn left Mamie’s band he was replaced by Bubber Miley. Dunn then formed his own band called the Original Jazz Hounds that featured singer Edith Wilson (who later became famous as Aunt Jemima in Quaker Oats commercials), whom he had met while playing in the Plantation Revue on Broadway.

The show was a great success and even played in London. Upon returning to America she left the revue and joined Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra. Dunn was always heavily involved in the show biz side music and played in other musical reviews built around singer Florence Mills. The revues that he worked in seemed to always end up in London and he recorded some sides there in 1927 with The Plantation Orchestra.

johnny_dunn_1923Dunn liked it in Europe and spent most of his later life there. He played in the Southern Syncopated Orchestra along with Sidney Bechet and with Dave Peyton, and Noble Sissle Orchestra’s while overseas. He also found work playing trumpet in several other shows that revolved around Edith Wilson, Florence Mills or Josephine Baker.

In 1928 he was back in New York where he led some memorable sessions with giants of 1920s Jazz piano, Willie “The Lion” SmithFats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton, but returned to Europe with the Noble Sissle Orchestra and then moved to the Netherlands and then Denmark for several years. Dunn died of tuberculosis in Paris in 1937.

Johnny Dunn and his Band Johnny Dunn and his Original Jazz Band
Johnny Dunn and his Jazz Band Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Hounds
Edith Wilson and Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Hounds

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
Dunn’s Cornet Blues
(Johnny Dunn)
4-11-1924 New York, New York Columbia
You’ve Never Heard The Blues
(Johnny Dunn)
4-11-1924 New York, New York Columbia

accompanied by

Artist Instrument
Sam Speed Banjo
Leroy Tibbs Piano, Cymbal


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