The Las Vegas Boneheads, a group consisting of three trombonists, two bass trombonists and a three-piece rhythm section, recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. Originally formed in 1962 as a rehearsal band formed led by Abe Nole, Many trombonists who were working in Las Vegas show bands as their regular gig have passed through the Boneheads through the years including Carl Fontana and Bill Harris. While the group disbanded in the mid-1980s, it came back in 2011 under the leadership of Curt Miller.
Surprisingly Sixty and Still Cookin’ is only the group’s second recording, not making their first CD until 2017. The current version of the group (trombonists Miller, Nathan Tanouye, Nate Kimball and Andrew Boostrom, bass trombonists Sonny Hernandez and Ralph Pressler, pianist Uli Geissendoerfer, bassist Steve Flora, and drummer Larry Aberman) primarily plays the arrangements of Miller and Tanouye. On Sixty and Still Cookin’, the great trombonist Andy Martin makes three guest appearances and a few numbers add guitarist Rene Toledo and percussionist Alex Stopa. Rather than only feature one lead trombonists, all four trombonists (plus Martin) get many opportunities to solo along the way although the ensemble contributions of the two bass trombonists should not be overlooked.
The Las Vegas Boneheads perform modern bebop and hard bop including such songs as Lee Morgan’s “Ceora,” Miller’s “Samba Deez Bones,” Gordon Goodwin’s “Home Again,” “Skylark,” “The Nervous Nellie” and heated versions of “Cherokee” and “Giant Steps”
Suffice it to say that anyone who loves bebop trombone playing will want to celebrate the Las Vegas Boneheads’ long legacy by acquiring Sixty and Still Cookin.’
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian
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