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Tip Jar

Bunky Colman, clarinet

His style was a personal mix of New Orleans, Swing and Chicago clarinet influences

Bunky Colman's clarinet style was a personal mix of New Orleans, Swing and Chicago clarinet influences.  Mielke says he admired the Bob Crosby Bobcats Dixieland Swing style.  Oxtot reports him once sitting in with the Watters band at Hambone Kelly's.

When he joined Bob Mielke's Bearcats in the early Fifties, Colman was a medical student.  Colman had first been recruited to play in K.O Eckland’s Social Polecats in the early 1950s. 

That carried over into Oxtot’s Polecats.  Bunky continued working in Dick’s bands during his Bearcats tenure beginning at the Lark's Club and through the '50s, and he also worked with trumpeter Marty Marsala around this time.

His ongoing medical education meant he was often absent, though he remained a band favorite when available.  He did succeed at becoming a physician, though he died relatively young at age 50.  

New in-depth article!

Part One:
The Bearcats at the Lark's Club: Sound and Images

Part Two:
The Bearcats at the Lark's Club: Sound and Images

Fresh audio and visual resources provide an ongoing survey of Bob Mielke's Bearcats.  New tapes and photos illuminate the Bearcats' first and best regular gig in Berkeley.

New 10.2015


Bunky Colman

The stereo recordings from the Bearcats early years highlight the lovely clarinet sounds of Bunky Colman.  At several exquisite moments, especially the slower numbers, his clarinet rings out nicely. 

In Bunky's composition "Blue Guaiac Blues" his spacious lines 'bloomed' in the luscious acoustic space of Jenny Lind Hall, yet the fine texture of his instrumental voice is retained, as heard in these related recordings:

Weary Blues.mp3
Blue Guaiac Blues.mp3
Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho.mp3
Sing On.mp3

Bearcats vocalizing at the Lark's Club 8.2.55

Note Bunky's medical attire

Mielke collection


Bob Mielke’s Bearcats at the Lark’s Club

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Bunky Colman (clarinet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (string bass)
Don Marchant (drums)
Barbara Dane (vocal)

Milenberg Joys.mp3 (5:08)
Ponchartrain.mp3 (4:57)
Just A Closer Walk with Thee.mp3 (4:59)
River Jordan.mp3 (3:55) vocal, Barbara Dane
When I Take My Sugar to Tea.mp3 (3:59) vocal, Bob Mielke
Yes Sir That's My Baby.mp3 (4:43) vocal, Dick Oxtot
Should_I?.mp3 (5:20)
St. James Infirmary.mp3 (3:12) vocal, Barbara Dane
Sweet Georgia Brown.mp3 (4:57)
Tiger Rag.mp3 (4:56)

Photo and music Mielke collection

Colman at Lark's Club c. 1955

Mielke collection


Bob Mielke's Bearcats
Empirical EM-108 Master

Recorded in Jenny Lind Hall,
Oakland CA, 4/27 & 5/1/55

Ice Cream.mp3

My Lovin' Imogene.mp3

Bogalusa Strut.mp3

Egyptian Fantasy.mp3

Yes, We Have No Bananas.mp3



Burp Hollow, c. 1959

This is typical of Oxtot's hot little quartet with Ted Butterman and Bunky Coleman.  It's an excellent examples of a conversation in jazz between two and three instrumental voices ‘trading fours' (splitting solos between four bars of music), or in this case, 'trading twos' or even 'ones.'

Ted Butterman
Bunky Colman (clarinet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (string bass)

Make Me a Pallet.mp3 (6:32)
Bully of the Town.mp3 (4:44, vocal Oxtot)
China Boy.mp3 (5:33)
Since My Best Gal Turned me Down.mp3 (3:30)
Oh! Baby.mp3 (5:04)
Should I?.mp3 (8:33)
Photo and audio Oxtot collection


Jazz Party 1964

Bunky Colman (clarinet)
Bill Napier (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Walter Yost (tuba)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)

Judging by the markings, this tape may be from one of the early East Bay music parties hosted by Manny Funk.  The absence of lead horn is more than compensated by the delightful clarinet duo of Bunky Colman and Bill Napier.

Just a Little While to Stay.mp3 (upcut, sub: unknown saxophone)
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.mp3  (fragment 1:20)
Old Spinning Wheel.mp3 (upcut; tentative start)
Old Spinning Wheel.mp3  (fragment: double-time coda)
New Orleans.mp3
Tiger Rag.mp3  (inc at end)

Jazz Party complete.mp3  25:26

The Old Gang

Former Bearcats, late 1970s or early '80s

L to R:
Oxtot, Colman, Allen, Stanton, Mielke

Oxtot collection


Bob Mielke's Bearcats, 1.77

Probably NOJCNC

Colman sounds great in this clean stereo pickup.  His sound was a pleasing mix of New Orleans, Swing and Chicago jazz clarinet styles, with the fine timbre and tonal control equal to classical technique, yet with the requisite edge and thrust for jazz. 

Say Si, Si.mp3

Oxtot collection

LINKS (this site):

Bearcats Archive

Larks Club tapes

Burp Hollow tapes

Dick Oxtot

Bob Mielke

PT Stanton

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