By Alex W. Rodríguez | Published May 2019
Bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton has teamed with three of New York’s finest fellow slide-wielders to bring us Bonegasm, a celebration of the delightful and quirky joys that arise when a bunch of trombone players gather to do their thing. A stalwart of the Broadway scene, Wharton has enlisted the help of Alan Ferber, Nate Mayland and her husband, John Fedchock, to showcase her skills in the jazz idiom. All three contribute first-rate arrangements that allow for the group to blend and also showcase Wharton’s unique talents in the instrument’s lower register.
Although this record certainly will please trombonists and other fans of the slide-heavy format, there’s plenty here for more casual listeners—from slick arrangements over a variety of grooves, inspired solo improvisations and playful humor. Indeed, the album’s title doesn’t shy away from the instrument’s sexual connotations, Wharton fully embracing this and making her vocal debut on the decidedly unsubtle double entendre of the final track, “Big Long Slidin’ Thing.”
By championing the erotic pleasure of music making, Wharton lays claim to a long lineage of jazz and blues performers—but her first leader date also showcases her rightful claim to the jazz bass trombone tradition. Her gorgeous turns as a low-frequency melodist on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” and “North Rampart” are breathtaking, and her pitch-perfect pedal blasts anchor exciting ensemble work throughout the album.
Bonegasm: The Year Of Two Summers; Low Ball; Stellar; North Rampart; Softly As In A Morning Sunrise; Other Angles; Tricotism; Impromptu; Big Long Slidin’ Thing. (59:42)
Personnel: John Fedchock, Nate Mayland, Alan Ferber, trombone; Jennifer Wharton, bass trombone, vocals (9); Michael Eckroth, piano; Evan Gregor, bass; Don Peretz, drums; Mauricio Herrera, percussion (1).