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This is the second album for TNC Jazz by trombone masters Carl Fontana and Jiggs Whigham with the Stefan Karlsson Trio, and like the first, Nice ‘n’ Easy (1997), it merits comment but is really beyond criticism except to note that there are one or two times when the rhythm section seems overly emphatic and that the earlier album’s playing time was more than sixteen minutes longer. Fontana, of course, is pretty much a known quantity, having been a high–profile poll–winner for many years in this country, while Ohio–born Whigham made his name and reputation duriing more than thirty years abroad, performing in and / or leading a number of world–class ensembles including the BBC and RIAS Big Bands. Each is a hard–swinging post–bopper whose ample storehouse of fresh ideas is enhanced by truly formidable chops, so to avoid confusion recording engineers Curt Miller and Tom “T–Bone” Denman have placed Whigham on the left channel, Fontana on the right. Each has one solo feature with the trio — Whigham, the Gershwins’ amorous “Embraceable You,” and Fontana, Jule Styne / Sammy Cahn’s buoyant “Time After Time.” Whigham contributed four original compositions, “Just for Now,” “Klook Spangalang,” “Mini–Bar Blues” and the breezy title selection, which opens the album. At first glance, Nicholas Brodzky’s “Be My Love,” best known as a vehicle for tenor Mario Lanza, may seem a curious choice to ring down the curtain, but then you’ve never heard it played like this. Fontana and Whigham could make the Yellow Pages swing, and “Be My Love” quickly succumbs to their convivial temperament. Fontana and Whigham play open almost all the way (Jiggs uses a mute on his “Mini–Bar Blues”); no need to break the monotony where there is none. Karlsson appends typically disarming solos on every number save Isham Jones / Gus Kahn’s “It Had to Be You” while making sure, with Warrington and Soph, that the rhythmic pot never ceases to boil. As usual, TNC provides intelligent liner notes with instructive excerpts from several numbers. Since the album was released we’ve heard that Carl hasn’t been well, and would like to wish him a swift and complete recovery. It would be a shame to have to break up this team, one of the most marvelous trombone duos since Kai and J.J.
Contact: TNC Jazz, 1350 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119. Phone 702–457–3823; fax 702–457–0199. Web site, www.tncmusic.net; e–mail email@example.com
Track Listing: Keepin
Personnel: Carl Fontana, Jiggs Whigham, trombone; Stefan Karlsson, piano; Tom Warrington, bass; Ed Soph, drums.