Andy Martin saw and met legendary jazz trombonist Frank Rosolino, to whom this CD is dedicated, on only one occasion, but he’s never forgotten it. Martin took that opportunity to tell Rosolino how much he enjoyed his music, and the latter seemed pleased. Shortly thereafter, Rosolino was tragically dead of a self-inflicted bullet wound, together with one son; the other was critically and permanently disabled. Young Martin lost a hero, and the jazz world lost an icon.
In 1995, when Martin was feeling jet-lagged before recording with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, it was to a few selected Rosolino CDs that he turned for inspiration. On the following day they recorded Andy Martin & The Metropole Orchestra
; see for yourself how well it worked.
Like his father, who organized the jazz band at California State University, Long Beach, Martin initially played the trumpet. In junior high school, when Martin was offered the opportunity to switch to trombone, he jumped at the chance. Since joining the Les Brown Band (1984-98), Martin has proven himself to be a well-rounded, first call section player, lead and soloist, with recording credits alongside a long string of notable leaders. Martin is noteworthy for his dazzling technique, musicality, and warm, mellow tone throughout the entire range of the instrument. In my opinion, he is the number one trombonist playing on the West Coast today.
Joining Martin are three consummate professionals. On piano, Sweden’s Jan Lundgren brings artistry, imagination, and delicious comping. Bassist Tom Warrington, assistant professor of music at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has recorded with Buddy Rich, Lennie Niehaus, and Lanny Morgan. Drummer Paul Kreibich has toured as a member of the late Gene Harris’ quartet; he and Warrington have recorded with Hod O’Brien, and all three members of the rhythm section have backed the great Swedish alto saxophonist-clarinetist Arne Domnérus.
This CD provides a comfortable showcase for Martin’s talents, in that everything Martin does seems easy and uncomplicated. The album in no way seems a tour de force
– it’s just not “showy” enough – but any trombone player can tell you just how impressively Martin plays. The outing opens with “Carl,” a bright cooker commissioned of Bill Holman by Stan Kenton in 1956 for Carl Fontana to play on the band’s spring tour of the United Kingdom and Europe.
From that point on, it’s nothing but pure pleasure; no “throw-aways” here. Five selections were composed for films and two for Broadway shows; two are played over a Latin rhythm. All were chosen for their beautiful voicing in the trombone range. On Sonny Rollins’ “Doxy” and Ted Grouya’s “Flamingo,” Martin is muted. On the latter and on “We’ll Be Together Again,” the quartet plays seldom-heard verses as a special treat. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” takes us home; the tune has special significance in that Andy as a youth was torn between music and a career in baseball.
All this, and a 28-page booklet that’s jam-packed with information and pictures, to boot. Frank Rosolino must be feeling very honored by this tribute.