Carl Fontana

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Carl Fontana
Carl Fontana.jpg
Fontana at Ball State University, 1989
Background information
Birth nameCarl Charles Fontana
Born(1928-07-18)July 18, 1928
Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedOctober 9, 2003(2003-10-09) (aged 75)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Associated actsSupersax

Carl Charles Fontana (July 18, 1928 - October 9, 2003) was an American jazz trombonist. After working in the big bands of Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, and Stan Kenton, he devoted most of his career to playing music in Las Vegas.

Early career[edit]

His first break into the professional jazz scene came in 1951 when he was hired to stand in for one of Woody Herman's regular trombonists, Urbie Green. When Green returned, Herman kept Fontana on as a permanent member of the band.

After three years with Herman, Fontana joined Lionel Hampton's big band in 1954. In early 1955 he played briefly with Hal McIntyre and Chicago pianist and Playboy executive, Sam Distefano at Sam's Miami nightclub, The Stut 'n' Tut. He later joined Stan Kenton's big band. Fontana recorded three albums with Kenton and worked with trombonist Kai Winding during this period.

After 1958, Fontana would tour rarely, such as a 1966 tour of Africa with Herman's band sponsored by the U.S. State Department. He primarily performed with house orchestras in Las Vegas during the 1960s, particularly Paul Anka's band (with Frank Rosolino). He also performed in bands backing Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Wayne Newton, and the Benny Goodman orchestra.

Later career[edit]

In the 1970s, he continued performing in house orchestras and lounges in Las Vegas. He also recorded with Louie Bellson, Bill Watrous, and Supersax. It was not until 1975 that Fontana recorded an album as an ensemble co-leader. He shared the billing for this record, The Hanna-Fontana Band: Live at Concord (Concord Jazz) with drummer Jake Hanna. Fontana toured in Japan with this ensemble. In 1978 he was featured on the jazz trombone recording Bobby Knight's Great American Trombone Company, with Charles Loper, Lew McCreary, Frank Rosolino, Phil Teele, and Bobby Knight.

In the 1980s, he appeared regularly on National Public Radio's Monday Night Jazz program. His first album as a headliner was The Great Fontana (Uptown Jazz, 1985).

In 2001 he joined The West Coast All Stars and played a concert in Stuttgart, Germany. He was joined by Conte Candoli, Teddy Edwards, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, and Joe LaBarbera. He was featured on the song "If I Only Had a Brain", from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Fontana died October 9, 2003, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at age of 75 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease.[1]


  • The Great Fontana (Uptown, 1985)
  • Live at Capozzoli's (Woofy, 1998)
  • Nice 'n' Easy (Cambria/TNC Jazz, 1999)
  • First Time Together (Budapest Music Center, 2002)
  • Keepin' Up With the Boneses (TNC Jazz, 2002)
  • Conte Candoli Quintet Tet (Woofy, 2003)[2]

With Woody Herman

  • Early Autumn (1952)
  • Concerto for Herd (1967)
  • Scene & Herd in 1952
  • Cool One (1998)
  • Woody Herman's Finest Hour (2001)
  • Presenting Woody Herman & The Band (2001)

With Louis Bellson

With Stan Kenton

  • Contemporary Concepts (Capitol, 1955)
  • Kenton in Hi-Fi (Capitol, 1956)
  • Cuban Fire! (Capitol, 1956)
  • Plays Holman Live! (1996)
  • Jazz Profile (1997)
  • Birdland Broadcasts (1998)
  • Intermission Riff 1952–1956
  • Concepts Era Live!
  • At the Ernst-Merck-Halle, Hamburg (2003)

With Kai Winding

With Frank Rosolino


  1. ^ "Carl Fontana, 75; Innovative Jazz Trombonist". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2003. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  2. ^ "Carl Fontana | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2017.

External links[edit]