Jazz CD Reviews

Frank Rosolino, Trombone – The Last Recording – Sea Breeze

The Last Recording of a Tortured Soul

Published on October 21, 2006

Frank Rosolino, Trombone – The Last Recording – Sea Breeze
Frank Rosolino – The Last Recording – Sea Breeze Jazz SBJ-3080, 1978 Recording/ 2006 Release, 54:30 ****:

(Frank Rosolino, trombone; Larry Willis, piano; Billy Higgins, drums; Kevin Brandon, bass)

Frank Rosolino is often remembered more for his tragic suicide and his shooting of his two sons in 1978 than for his brilliant trombone playing. Frank was a mainstay on the West Coast jazz scene in the 1950s and even had a stint with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse Allstars.

His double tonguing technique and perfect pitch made him a welcome addition to any band. Often playing without vibrato, Rosolino could play great bebop and his blues playing made made his Dec. 1958 session on Specialty Records with Harold Land, Victor Feldman, Leroy Vinnegar, and Stan Levey, one of the West Coast’s first true Hard Bop recorded sessions.

Sea Breeze’s 2006 release of Rosolino’s last recorded session as a leader is cause for celebration. His last manager, Diane Armesto, shopped this session around for many years without success due to the fact of Rosolino’s suicide and also probably to the fact that this August 1978 recording featured Rosolino on Conn Multivider -described in Arnesto’s liner notes as having “the creation of two additional octaves – like three horns playing in unison.” The session was supposed to have been titled The Electronic Truth.

Frank was placed with a then dream rhythm section of Larry Willis on piano, the incomparable Billy Higgins on drums, and the relatively unknown Kevin Brandon on bass. Song selections were all standards, with the exception of two takes of Rosolino’s own Waltz for Diane. There are also two takes of Errol Garner’s Misty and the same goes for Jimmy Van Heusen’s I Thought About You. On Misty, Kevan Brandon gets a nice extended bass solo and Willis is featured prominently on most every track. Willis is a revelation on piano as this is a relatively early recording for him as he had only two albums as a leader when this August 1978 recording took place. He was more known as a sideman then, before beginning to lead his own groups in the late 1980s

Rosolino’s Multivider takes a bit of getting used to as it truly sounds electronic, but Frank’s technique overcomes the foreign-sounding timbre. It truly is no exaggeration that Rosolino’s “electric” trombone sounds as if two or three trombones were being played at once. Kudos to Sea Breeze for bringing this last recording session of the great Frank Rosolino back into circulation. It’s a “must have” for completist fans of Rosolino.

Tracklist: Misty (radio edit), I Thought About You (radio edit), Waltz for Diane (Take 2), Misty, I Thought About You, Waltz for Diane (take one)

- Jeff Krow




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