Over the years, bop has had plenty of front lines that consisted of two trumpets, two tenors, or two altos. But two-trombone front lines have been a rarity. In the 1960s, the most famous was J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. And in the 1990s, the Swiss hard bop/post-bop quintet Twobones modeled itself after the Johnson/Winding group; Paul Haag and Danilo Moccia are the trombonists, and the rhythm section consists of pianist Tutilo Odermatt, bassist Isla Eckinger, and drummer Peter Schmidlin. Recorded live at Jazzclub Q4 in Rheinfelder, Switzerland, on November 27, 1998, this Swiss release finds Twobones providing a likable, if derivative, tribute to the Johnson/Winding group. Nothing earth shattering, innovative, or distinctive occurs, but Twobones are enjoyable during a decent set that ranges from Haag and Eckinger originals to well-known hard bop and post-bop standards like Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," Nat Adderley's "Work Song," and Benny Golson's "Five Spot After Dark." Although Twobones doesn't inundate the audience with Johnson's compositions -- "Blues for Trombone" is the only Johnson piece that the quintet performs -- the Johnson/Winding influence is present throughout the set. Not remarkable but certainly pleasing, Spiral Stairway is a CD that trombone enthusiasts should be aware of.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson