Frank Rosolino – I Play Trombone – Bethlehem Records

Frank Rosolino – I Play Trombone – Bethlehem Records mono BCP-26, 37:35 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

(Frank Rosolino – trombone; Sonny Clarke – piano; Wilfred Middlebrooks – bass; Stan Levey – drums)

Frank Rosolino was a restlessly creative and consistently bold trombonist who honed his chops in the big bands of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s but gained most of his early accolades with the Stan Kenton band between 1952 and 1954. In this original 1956 release for Bethlehem Records entitled I Play Trombone, he leads a quartet featuring bop-inspired pianist Sonny Clarke for a spirited session that helped cement his reputation.

Opening with “I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful)” Rosolino is on muted trombone in a loose swinger in which he provides  some smart phrasing using the melody as a base. Sonny Clarke is a strong single-note pianist and does not disappoint in his solo appearance. All of this leads to an  exchange of fours between Rosolino and bassist Middlebrooks and drummer Levey which helps move the piece along. Continuing the use of the muted trombone Rosolino offers up “The Things We Did Last Summer”, the Sonny Rollins piece “Doxy”, and the singer Herb Jeffries’ associated ballad “Flamingo”. Throughout these tracks, Rosolino it at his forceful best, running off arpeggios at lightening speed, fitting in glissandos at the appropriate moment, and generally showing command of his instrument. Not to be overlooked is the contribution of Sonny Clarke whose creativity and talent added to the lustre of this session.

The open horn selections are both compositions by Rosolino namely “Frieda” and “My Delux”. The first moves along with great cheerfulness with Clarke chipping in some piano runs to enhance Rosolino’s efforts.The latter has bassist Middlebrooks opening the tune with a forceful bass line, which glides into a Clarke solo, and is then the melody picked up by Rosolino who does some inventive growling on his horn.

This is a smart and lively outing from Frank Rosolino made all the more pleasurable by the presence of pianist Sonny Clarke.

TrackList: I May Be Wrong ( But I Think You’re Wonderful); The Things We Did Last Summer; Frieda; Doxy; My Delux; Flamingo

—Pierre Giroux

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