Carl Fontana

Nice 'n' Easy

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Recorded in 1997, Nice 'n' Easy finds Carl Fontana joining forces with another veteran trombonist: Jiggs Whigham. Together, Fontana and Whigham form a two-trombone front line, and they have a solid rhythm section that consists of pianist Stefan Karlsson, bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Ed Soph. These days, two-trombone attacks are a rarity, and anyone who has a high opinion of the sessions that trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding co-led in the '60s knows how regrettable that is. So, when two skilled trombone veterans like Fontana and Whigham get together, it is a happy event. Fontana is the older of the two; born in 1929, he was 14 when Whigham was born in 1943. Both of them bring a lot of experience to the table, and they enjoy a strong rapport when they turn their attention to original pieces, as well as Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane" and some overdone standards (including "Sweet Lorraine" and "It Could Happen to You"). Those who have listened to Fontana and Whigham extensively should have no problem telling them apart; both are recognizable. But even so, it is a good thing that the liner notes tell you which trombonist is soloing first on a particular song -- that way, novices will know for sure. On Nice 'n' Easy, the trombonists do not sound like they are trying to compete with one another. There are no duel-to-the-death battles; in fact, most of the performances tend to be relaxed and easygoing (which is why Nice 'n' Easy is an appropriate and accurate title). Fontana and Whigham always share a friendly, good-natured dialogue on this rewarding disc.

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