This album’s a listening pleasure for any music lover, but if you have a particular fondness for the trombone’s warm-toned vocal sound, this album’s a must – a once in a lifetime conclave of four of the instrument’s greats. There’s Dane Kai Winding, best known for his classic series of jazz albums with modern trombone icon J.J. Johnson. With his multiphonics and exploratory bent, Germany’s Albert Mangelsdorff was a major innovator on the instrument. American Bill Watrous played with Maynard Ferguson and Ten Wheel Drive; his Manhattan Wildlife Refuge was a leading big band in the 70’s. The USA’s Jiggs Whigham worked in the Stan Kenton band before moving to Europe where he has been in continual demand as a soloist and educator. An added delight: American piano maestro Horace Parlan adds taste and depth with a solo on every piece but one.
Winding’s Me ‘N Jangles features two choruses of Kai then two of Bill before a series of trading eights, then fours. Rip Off, Mangelsdorff’s take on Freedom Jazz Dance, features first Jiggs, then Bill, Albert on plunger, and a muted Jiggs. Whigham’s The Infernal Triangle begins as a ballad before breaking out into a swinging romp with Jiggs, a muted Kai, Bill, then Albert again with plunger. They then take turns trading fours with the drums. Winding’s Ides has Kai and Albert taking on the melody before soloing. The leisurely Slow Grind has the four back together, with Kai, Bill, Albert, and Jiggs soloing in that order. Mangelsdorff’s aptly named March of the Jazz Experts has adventurous solos by Albert and Bill. The Count Basie classic Blue and Sentimental features Kai, Bill, and Albert taking turns playing off the melody, and Mississippi Mud features Albert and Bill down and dirty, switching between multiphonics and pyrotechnics. Made up of 6 sections, Blues Suite starts off with Winding’s Extension Blues, with the solo order Kai, Bill, Jiggs, and Albert, segueing into Danish Blue with Kai, Bill, Jiggs, Albert, Kai, then Jiggs trading bars a cappella before improvising together, immediately followed by the themes of four jazz blues classics, Bird’s Now’s the Time and Buzzy, Prez’s Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid, and Count Basie’s One o’clock Jump. A fitting end to an album of trombone wizardry.