JazzWax List: Hal's Pals - JazzWax

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October 18, 2011


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Hal managed to come up with five names that I'd never heard of, but I'd agree that Tony Fruscella was an extraordinary player. He was very melodic and had a dark velvety tone that was unique. I've never heard anyone else get a sound like that even on flugelhorn.
His best recording, a self-titled one on Atlantic, has been mostly out-of-print but can be found in it's entirety on an Alan Eager compilation called "An Ace Face." A few tracks recorded with Stan Getz are very nice as well. All of the above feature compositions of Phil Sunkel. Tony was a favorite of Red Mitchell who wrote lyrics to one of his solos.
I read somewhere an account of driving to a job with Tony and Don Joseph in the back seat singing Bach two-part inventions for memory. (Joseph was another very melodic trumpeter who played even more quietly than Tony.)
According to Maggin's biography of Stan Getz, Tony sort of vanished into a haze along with Getz's first wife.


When the great Hal McKusick recalls Tony Fruscella, he is referring to this gem:


MY Holy Grail!

Bill Kirchner

I knew Angelo Tompros quite well. He was from Washington, D.C., and after playing with Buddy Rich and Boyd Raeburn in the mid-'40s, he went back home to D.C., where he played in Willis Conover's and Joe Timer's THE Orchestra in the early '50s with Ben Lary, Marky Markowitz, Ed Leddy, Jack Nimitz, and others.

In later years, Angelo worked a day gig and played commercial gigs with a society band, which is where I got to know him; we played together in the late '70s. Even the dreariest society gigs were enlivened by his beautiful, lyrical Lesterish sound and ideas.

In 1980, composer-arranger Mike Crotty's big band, of which I was a member, played a concert at the Smithsonian of the music of the Boyd Raeburn band; it was the first time that that music had been played live in a generation. I got Angelo on the band in his old chair for that concert; it was the first jazz gig he had played in many years, and he more than rose to the occasion. The band and audience loved him.

Angelo is gone now, but I'll never forget him.

Bruno Leicht

Marc, I envy you for talking at the phone to one of the greatest alto players ever.

All those fellows Hal is mentioning, except for Tony Fruscella of course, are unknown to me.

Well, that's just another proof for the many talented musicians around those days; some of them never made it, and a handful of them did at least one complete studio date under their own name, just like Tony.

Another unsung hero on alto would be Gene Quill. His sound is documented quite well on many recordings, but he is nevertheless almost forgotten too.

Hey, we will see if there will surface some unissued recordings of the other folks in the future; and you, Marc, will certainly be among the ones who will notify us.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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