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New Orleans—Mainspring or Myth?
Bunk's solos show a degree of melodic invention which places him in the genius class of jazz improvisors . . . they possess that high degree of art which is always expressed in classic simplicity. —Frederic Ramsey, Jr.
about music. The solos are not even good for that type. Musi­cianship? I didn't hear any.
—Mary Lou Williams (re Bunk Johnson record, When the Saints Go Marching In).
These writers can't react to music the way a musician can, because they simply don't know what it is . . . they listen to all that old time stuff because they like to have their own private pleasure out of things. They want something they think nobody else can appreciate, instead of some­thing they're sharing with the whole public. That's why they don't appreciate people like Benny Goodman and prefer to listen to Bunk.
—Max Kammsky
If this is a recent recording, those men must have wonderful photographic memories. This says absolutely nothing to me, emo­tionally; it doesn't speak in my idiom . . . The musicians aren't artists in the same sense of to­day's musicians; if they did have real artistry it would project itself to me somehow ... all the same, these musicians are less ridiculous than the fans who idolize them. How can they be sincere? It's just one of those esoteric cults. No stars.
-The late Dave Tough (re Kid Rena record, Lowdown Blues).
They were doing the same thing over and over. All of them were. Every once in a while they'd stop and the clarinet
... the rhythm is simple and uncluttered throughout. Kid Rena was the victim of a stroke some­time prior to the making of these discs ... his pleasing middle register performance is, therefore, a truly remarkable accomplish­ment. Rena's approach is very straight-forward, showing con­siderable respect for the melody "as written. (Louis) Nelson (shows) the full, warm tone and simple yet liquid style that was a tremendous influence on many other New Orleans clarinetists. —Grossman & Farrell7
The group's creativity in jazz is . . . very considerable. The leader's clarinet is played in a liquid style with much of the