Truly an unearthed gem, Trombone Heaven is a previously unreleased concert recording from 1978 at the Bayshore Inn in Vancouver, Canada, featuring the late slide legends Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana. The spirited set is anchored by the swinging rhythm section of pianist Elmer Gill, bassist Torban Oxbol and drummer George Ursan.
Given the loose, jam-session nature of the set, the tunes are lengthy, allowing ample room for both Rosolino and Fontana to stretch out and display their unmatchable technique. Disc highlights include the impromptu trombone conversations on Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," Miles Davis' "All Blues" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow." The telepathic give-and-take between the co-leaders, especially on the up-tempo numbers is utterly mesmerizing.
On the opening ballad medley of "Here's That Rainy Day" and "Stardust," the dynamic duo relies as much on sense of humor and unpredictability of note choice as on virtuosity. The two prod each other on in an uncompetitive way, enjoying each others company and having a swinging good time.
By the time of this concert, both Rosolino and Fontana had established their reputations as two of the most innovative trombonists jazz had ever known. This session, chock-full of fiery bop lines, sensual lyricism and eye-popping trombone gymnastics, documents the unbridled passion of two titans of a bygone era.
Here’s that Rainy Day/Stardust; Well, You Needn’t; All Blues; Just Friends; Laura/Embraceable You; Ow.
Frank Rosolino: trombone; Carl Fontana: trombone; Elmer Gill: piano; Torban Oxbol: bass; George Ursan: drums.