Bob Enevoldsen dies


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Bob Enevoldsen - Doug Ramsey, November 23, 2005

One of the joys of listening to The Bill Holman Band the past decade or so has been the opening minute of “No Joy In Mudville." Over an insistent one-bar riff figure repeated by the saxophones, Bob Enevoldsen plays a valve trombone solo of pure exuberance. It is the first track in Holman's CD A View From The Side. It was, almost invariably, the first piece he called when the band performed. I write “was" because the bad news is that Enevoldsen died last Saturday, November 19 2005. In a palpable sense, he was central to the spirit of that great band, as he was to jazz on the west coast for more than half a century.

In Leonard Feather's and Ira Gitler's Biographical Encylopedia of Jazz, his entry begins,

ENEVOLDSEN, BOB (ROBERT MARTIN), v-tbn., tbn, bs, bari horn, tr sax, etc. b Billings, MT, 9/11/20 That “etc." covers arranging. Enevoldsen was a superb arranger and ochestrator and, when the occasion arose, an effective and congenial leader. He was best known for his valve trombone and in greatest demand on that horn, but he was also a tenor saxophonist with original ideas and a fetching graininess in his tone. He shines on both horns in his own group and with Harry Babasin's quintet in Jazz In Hollywood, a CD reissue of 1954 recordings from the Nocturne label. In the fifties when his trombone chops went temporarily into decline, Enevoldsen switched to bass and continued to make a living. There's a bit of his bass playing on the Babasin recordings.

Much of his income came from work in Los Angeles television and movie studios, which offered economic survival for many top-flight jazz artists. But his heart was in jazz, and he left a fifty-year trail of memorable performances and recordings with Holman, Gerry Mulligan, Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers, Bob Florence, Bob Crosby, Tex Beneke, Mel Torm, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Henry Mancini and Terry Gibbs, to name a few in the wide range of musicians who insisted on his services.

A burly man, after he worked up a crop of facial hair and took on some age he came to resemble St. Nicholas with a neatly trimmed beard. Enevoldsen was hampered the past several years by the circulation problems that led to his death, but he kept working. His daughter drove him to rehearsals and gigs and helped him onto the bandstand. Bill Holman told me yesterday that Enevoldsen's physical problems disappeared once the band started playing. “When it was time for him to solo," Holman said, “the years fell away."

Bob Enevoldsen: never a star, never a household name, always a pleasure to hear; gone at eighty-five.

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