[Dixielandjazz] Re: Trumpeter Johnny Windhurst

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 1 12:12:04 PST 2003

robert craven wrote:

>  Steve, I know you have a lot of information on good players of the
> past. I put this on the list, but I'm also contacting you in case you
> miss my message.
> I have a couple Eddie Condon records and Johnny Windhurst is on
> trumpet. He is, or was, one hell of a horn player. I'd like to know
> more about him if possible. You're the only person I know, who has an
> insight as to researching this sort of thing.

Hi Bob:

Johnny Windhurst was born in NYC in November 1926. He passed away in
1981. I played a few gigs with him in the 1950s. He was a fantastic
trumpet player and is much overlooked today. He did not read music.

He cut over 30 record sessions with groups fronted by Eddie Condon and
others. He also backed singer Barbara Lea with his own quintet, and in
other groups fronted by pianist Billy Taylor. He also appears on a video
of a "Jazz Party" along with such notables as Sarah Vaughn etc. He
backed Singer Lee Wiley. All the jazz musicians in NYC, 40s, 50s, & 60s,
knew him and were aware of his greatness.

Ruby Braff is quoted as saying he was influenced by Windhurst.

Ed Hubble (Tbone) and Windhurst moved from NYC to Poughkeepsie NY in the
mid 1970s, not sure why except that they may have had a steady gig at a
resort in the area. Bassist Chuck Traeger had done that about the same
time. Got out of jazz to play at a Catskill Resort and did so for 25
years before retiring. Traeger (house bassist at Nick's) also played
quite a bit with Windhurst, as did Kenny Davern, Andy Russo, Sal Pace
and other stalwarts at Nick's.

He played with Bechet in Boston in 1945, replacing Bunk Johnson and then
Peter Bocage. See following note to those dates at the Savoy Cafe where
Scott Yanow notes he played better than both of them:

"In 1945, Sidney Bechet tried to realize his dream of putting together
an old-style New Orleans jazz band with veteran trumpeter Bunk Johnson,
and the group played a long engagement at the Savoy Cafe in Boston.
Unfortunately, Johnson's drinking and attitude resulted in erratic music
and his departure from the group. After 19-year-old Johnny Windhurst
ably filled the trumpet spot for a few weeks, Peter Bocage arrived from
New Orleans. Bocage also did not work out (his style was too gentle for
Bechet) and Windhurst ended up finishing up the engagement before the
band broke up. In the 1970s, the Fat Cat label came out with a dozen LPs
that featured all of this group's radio broadcasts along with a few
rehearsals. In the late '90s, the Jazz Crusade label reissued the music
with Johnson and Bocage but unfortunately not the more rewarding
performances with Windhurst. On the first of five CDs, there are nine
songs of Bechet with Johnson at a rehearsal and seven by the
Bechet-Bocage group from a radio broadcast; all have pianist Ray Parker,
bassist Pops Foster, and drummer George Thompson as the rhythm section.
Bechet plays quite well throughout these numbers, Johnson is OK and
Bocage is a bit weak but sincere. The music overall is of interest, if
not flawless or essential. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide"

Also this from Leonard Feather's "Encyclopedia of jazz".

"A self-taught musician who has never learned to read music, he made his
professional début in 1944 and in the following year recorded with
Sidney Bechet. He played with Art Hodes and James P. Johnson at the Jazz
at Town Hall concert in September 1946, then worked in Chicago, with
Edmond Hall in California (1947-8), and with Louis Armstrong and Nappy
Lamare before leading his own band in Ohio and Boston. After working in
1950 with Eddie Condon and recording in the following year with Ruby
Braff in one of the groups known as Jazz at Storyville in Boston he
played at Condon club in New York (1952-3) and made recordings in New
York with the singer Barbara Lea (1955-7), Jack Teagarden (1955), and
his own swing quartet (Jazz at Columbus Avenue, 1956, Transition 2),
which included Buell Neidlinger as a sideman. Later he played in a stage
band (1956), worked again in Ohio and toured as a leader (1957-9), and
performed again at Condons club.

He also worked at Bill Reinhardt's Jazz Ltd in Chicago in the late
1940s. Don Ingle or Jim Beebe may have known him. They are both about 5
years younger but may have gone there to see him as kids.That's about
all I know about him. GREAT PLAYER.


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