Bunn, Teddy (actually, Theodore Leroy)

views updated

Bunn, Teddy (actually, Theodore Leroy)

Bunn, Teddy (actually, Theodore Leroy), jazz guitarist, singer; b. Long Island, N.Y., c. 1909; d. Lancaster, Calif., July 20, 1978. His brother, Kenneth, was a violinist; their mother played the organ, their father was an accordionist. He played without a pick, using his thumb and forefinger to solo in a heavily melodic, rather than chordal fashion. Bunn taught himself the guitar. Although Teddy specialized on guitar, he did work briefly on banjo with Cecil Scott in N.Y. (January 1929). He recorded with Duke Ellington in 1929, and later deputized for Fred Guy on a tour of New England with Duke Ellington; he worked in the Washboard Serenaders during the early 1930s, then c. 1932 joined the group known as Ben Bernie’s Nephews; this unit moved to N.Y. to play a long residency at Chick Groman’s Stables and changed their name to the Spirits of Rhythm. They also worked in Philadelphia and Chicago as well as touring. Bunn left in 1937, worked briefly in the original John Kirby Band (May 1937), then led his own trio and duo at various N.Y. clubs before rejoining the Spirits of Rhythm in April 1939. He made prolific freelance recordings in the 1930s with Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, Trixie Smith, Mezz Mezzrow and Tommy Ladnier, and J.C. Higginbothan and Sidney Bechet. After residency at N.Y.’s World Fair the group moved to Calif, in 1940, and for a period of ten years disbanded and re–formed with great regularity. Bunn also recorded in 1940 with Lionel Hampton, where he began using electric rather than acoustic guitar. Bunn was briefly absent from the music scene in 1942, then led his own Waves of Rhythm (1944). During the 1940s and 1950s, he primarily worked on the West Coast, sometimes on his own, and on various occasions with Edgar Hayes. In the late 1950s toured with a “rock ’n’ roll” show. During the 1960s, he played less regularly through recurring illness, and finally retired from music in the 1970s.


sidney bechet:1924–1938 (1924). Complete, Vols. 1–2 (1932); Masterpieces, Vol. 7 (1932); In New York (1937–1940 (1937); Teddy Bunn 1930–1939 (1989); The Spirit of Rhythm 1932–1934 (1989).

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

About this article

Bunn, Teddy (actually, Theodore Leroy)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article