Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday George Brunis!

February 6

Trombonist George Brunies, (a.k.a. Georg Brunis) is born in  New Orleans, LA, in 1902. Brunis was a member of the pioneering New Orleans Rhythm Kings, one of the first groups of any kind to record jazz. He is featured on NORK recordings and his tailgate style on trombone was very influential. When the Rhythm Kings broke up in 1924, Brunis landed a ten-year gig with Ted Lewis, who was nationally famous for leading an orchestra that was high on prehistoric humor and bathetic hokum (but whose famous catch phrase was “Is Everybody Happy?” which makes you wonder just how powerful that 20s bathtub gin was). Brunis was said to be able to manipulate the trombone’s slide with his foot, so he fit right in with Lewis’s conception. In the 1930s, Brunis moved on to trumpeter/singer Louis Prima’s band, and then trumpeter Muggsy Spaniel’s small group ensconced at Nick’s, a well-known home in New York’s Greenwich Village for musicians playing in the New Orleans-Chicago hybrid that came to be known as “Dixieland.” It was with Spanier that Brunis made some of his most famous recordings. The trombonist also was perfectly situated to take part in the Dixieland revival later in that decade and into the 1940s. Brunis returned to Nick’s, where he remained through 1946. Brunies then worked with Eddie Condon. By 1950, he’d returned to Chicago to lead his own band.

Georg Brunis died there in 1974. Listen to Brunis lend his tailgate-style trombone to “Sensation,” part of a 1934 recording date by the “New Orleans Rhythm Kings”–not the original NORK from a decade or more earlier, but a group fronted by trumpeter Wingy Manone–here:

Bob Crosby’s Bobcats record “Spain” in 1940. Listen here:

Alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley records the LP Sophisticated Swing with his brother Nat on cornet, pianist Junior Mance, Sam Jones and Jimmy Cobb. Listen to Duke Pearson’s “Tribute to Brownie,” an homage to trumpeter Clifford Brown that sounds like a tune Brown would’ve recorded, here: