|Tags:||jazz bop cool cool jazz polka dots west coast jazz|
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18 July 1928, Monroe, Louisiana, USA, d. 9 October 2003, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. As a teenager Fontana played trombone in a band led by his father, then joined Woody Herman in 1952. Subsequent big band stints came with Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton. In the late 50s he worked with Kai Windings four-trombone band. He spent most of the 60s working in house bands in Las Vegas but returned briefly to Herman for a world tour. In the early and mid-70s he was in Supersax and was co-leader with Jake Hanna of the Hanna-Fontana Band. An enormously resourceful and inventive soloist, Fontana combined a phenomenal technique with a beautiful tone that he ably demonstrated on A Beautiful Friendship, recorded with Hanna at the 1975 Concord Jazz Festival. He was equally at home in a roaring big band and small groups with bebop or dixieland orientation, but was at his rhapsodic best in mainstream bands where he was given plenty of solo space.