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"God's Trombone" Gets 1st Broadcast-40 Years After

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As a part of Boston's Jazz Week celebration, listeners will be able to hear for the first time a concert recording of “God’s Trombones” performed 40 years ago. The composition, which features virtuoso trombonist Carl Fontana, will be broadcast on Steve Provizer's Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour on Thursday, May 1, from 5 to 6 PM on WZBC, heard locally at 90.3 FM and streaming live at WZBC.ORG.

“God's Trombones" was written to help mark the second annual “Sackbut Week,” an event that was held from 1973-1986 in Boston to celebrate all things sackbut (trombone). Rich Allen, a student of Phil Wilson at Berklee, inspired by “God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse," by James Weldon Johnson, wrote this extended piece for the virtuoso trombonist Carl Fontana, along with Phil Wilson. Wilson compare's Fontana's playing to Clark Terry and Oscar Peterson, saying “If you were on your way to hear any of them, you'd be driving into the parking lot and smiling already just knowing about the joy you were about to receive."

Altogether in this concert, there are 16 trombonists, five reeds, four trumpets, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. Many of the young musicians involved went on to have notable careers in music, including Tony Klatka, Billy Drewes, Bob Gulotti, George Garzone, Dennis Wilson and Keith O'Quinn.

This recording of the concert was acquired by Dick Vacca, author of “Boston Jazz Chronicles,” from Chris Buchanan of Washington, DC, who attended the concert and was impressed enough to obtain a copy from Berklee College of Music, which had taped it. A digital copy was made from the reel-to-reel and now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the concert, the concert will be broadcast for the first time.

The show will be archived for streaming at WZBC.ORG for a week. However, it will be available permanently for either streaming or downloading here.

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