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Frank Rosolino: The Last Recording

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Frank Rosolino’s suicide is an unforgettably evil and tragic parallel to any discussion of his music. On Nov. 26, 1978 he shot his two young sons, killing one, and then shot himself. Nearly four months earlier, he had recorded three tunes with a Conn Multivider attached to his trombone. Two versions of each song comprise this album. After his death, apparently no record company wanted to invest in a three-tune album with the great trombone virtuoso using an electronic attachment.

In retrospect, the extra octaves of the Multivider are not the gross commercial compromise feared by record executives and Rosolino fans. The beauty of his tone, his lightning-like delivery and his bebop ingenuity remain largely unspoiled throughout performances of the standards “Misty” and “I Thought About You” and his “Waltz for Diane.” Each affords ample verification of why Rosolino was much admired among trombonists as well as fans. The rhythm section-pianist Larry Willis, bassist Kevan Brandon and drummer Billy Higgins-offers solid support. Nothing hints at the troubles ahead.

The performances of the standards include a lengthy take of each and a shorter “radio edit.” The performances of the Rosolino original are listed as “take one” and “take two.”

Diane Armesto, Rosolino’s girlfriend and manager at the time of his death, wrote the lengthy liner notes.