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The Las Vegas Boneheads: Sixty and Still Cookin'


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The Las Vegas Boneheads: Sixty and Still Cookin'
There aren't many albums a listener might care to revisit again immediately after an initial spin. This is one of them. The Las Vegas Boneheads, a trombone-and-rhythm nonet formed by Abe Nole in 1962, marked their sixtieth(!) anniversary by recording Sixty and Still Cookin', an album that more than lives up to its name while presenting a master class in how contemporary jazz trombone should be played, individually and collectively.

There's never a dull or wasted moment here, thanks to an impressive inventory of standard and original tunes and superlative blowing by all hands including special guest Andy Martin who is eloquent and persuasive as always on Gordon Goodwin's "Home Again," Curt Miller's "The Nervous Nellie" and Ray Noble's "Cherokee." He's far from alone, however, as Miller and his frontline mates—Nathan Tanouye, Nate Kimball, Andrew Boostrom and Ilai Macaggi—are given ample room to stretch and make the most of every opportunity.

They are supported on most numbers by bass trombonists Sonny Hernandez and Ralph Pressler and an exemplary rhythm section comprised of pianist Uli Geissendorfer (also a splendid soloist), bassist Steve Flora and drummer Larry Aberman who are replaced for reasons unknown on the last tune, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," by Dave Richardson , Rochon Westmoreland and Johnny Friday. Besides "Nervous Nellie," Miller—who joined the ensemble in 1978 shortly after graduating from college—wrote the charming, light-hearted "Samba Deez Bones," while Billy Rogers penned the incendiary opener, "Al Cohn Tune," Bill Holman the irrepressible "Carl," presumably to honor one of the ensemble's several renowned alumni, the late great Carl Fontana.

Rounding out the seductive program are Lee Morgan's gently swaying "Ceora," Hoagy Carmichael's enchanting "Skylark" and Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer's tender-hearted "I Thought About You." The Boneheads are brilliant on every one, leaping to the head of the class thanks for the most part to their high-grade intensity, blowing with the sort of stamina and enhusiasm that belies their newly-earned senior status. As noted, there's never a tedious moment, and the Las Vegas Boneheads are definitely still cookin' even at their advanced age. Let us hope that another sixty years don't pass before we hear more from this well-knit team of masterful musicians.

Track Listing

Al Cohn Tune; Ceora; Samba Deez Bones; Home Again; Carl; Skylark; The Nervous Nellie; I Thought About You; Cherokee; Giant Steps.


Curt Miller

Album information

Title: Sixty and Still Cookin' | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Records



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