Dunn’s genre is now called Western swing, and it formed the roots of numerous offshoots. In his groundbreaking (literally) electrifying music, he melded Hawaiian, country, and hot jazz elements into a style that reverberates today in genres from modern country to rock and roll.
This box contains dozens of Dunn’s most astounding performances, recorded with bands such as Milton Brown & his Brownies, Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers, Roy Newman & his Boys, as well as Bob Dunn’s Vagabonds. And while one can never expect remastered 78-r.p.m. recordings to sound modern, there is a clarity and separation that allows easy identification of many instruments.
An important part of any boxed retrospective is context, and this excels, with dozens of period photos, record labels, instruments, and discography that show clearly the results of many hours of research. Historical essays describe Dunn’s life, professional approaches, and subsequent influence. Though not as well-known as other lap-style players such as Sol Hoopi or Noel Boggs, Dunn was as talented and inventive as any. It’s nice to see and hear a celebration of that talent.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.