Bernard Bunny Berigan left his mark, whether leading his own band or sparking someone else's. Berigan was one of the top three trumpet soloists during the Big Band era and one of the few who had an original style not in the mold of Louis Armstrong. No one ever played like he played, Joe Aguanno, a trumpeter who worked with the Berigan outfit in 1939-40, remembers. The sound was so rich and so soulful. There's something that us trumpet players used to hear in Bunny. When he would attack a certain note, it would sound . . . it makes you cry. The sound that came out of Bunny's horn was just like the type of person he was. He was such a fine,lovable guy... a big man, nice-looking.
He didn't actually meet Bunny until he tried out for the Berigan crew around October 1939, just before it was to play the New York World's Fair. I only actually met him when I auditioned for him, he said. Before that, naturally, I was a fan of his.
Aguanno had been recommended by a friend and fellow trumpeter, Johnny Fallstitch, who, along with Bunny, Truman Quigley, and Carl Warwick, made up the Berigan trumpet section at that time.
I was practicing at my home in Brooklyn, New York at about 2:15 in the afternoon, I'll never forget that, and the phone rang and I answered the phone, This is Joe. He called me 'Joe Aguackamo,' and I said, 'No, Joe Aguanno.' And he said, 'This is Bunny Berigan.' And I said, 'Oh, hi ya Bun.' I just said 'Bunny,' 'cause we in music talk that way. And he said, 'I'm in need of a trumpet player tonight, to add to the band. We're going to the World's Fair next week, for a week, and I want you to come in and sit in with the band.'