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Carl Fontana Dies

Trombonist Carl Fontana (pictured), who created the “doodle-tonguing” technique, died October 9 in Las Vegas. He was 75. Fontana had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Big band fans will known Fontana through his work with Woody Herman (first with the Third Herd and again in 1966 for a State Department tour) and Stan Kenton (with whom he recorded 11 albums).

The trombonist also played in large groups led by Lionel Hampton and Hal McIntyre as well as in Kai Winding’s four-trombone band. But for the past 40-plus years Fontana has been making his primary living playing show music in Vegas.

Fontana’s legacy, however, is solidified by his decision to mouth “doodle doodle” into his mouthpiece in order to compete with legato tonguing by saxophonists. That fast articulation helped pave the way for many bop trombonists.

The Monroe, La.-born Fontana is survived by his daughter, Felicia Valenty, two sons, Mark and Scott, all of Las Vegas, as well as two brothers, George and Michael, of Monroe, La. He had eight grandchildren.

Originally Published