I heard of Tony Fruscella for the first time in an interview with Bill Dixon, or so I thought I did, since I am not able to put hands on that interview. I must have confused it with this one on the same website with Franz Koglmann, in which he lists Pernod, a compilation, among his “listening pleasures”. At all events, it was only a matter of time before I listened to it. Until now I have inattentively listened to snippets of it, the only thing I can say is that his tone on the trumpet is quite beautiful. I didn’t know that old jazz could be so moving, or rather, hinting at something that approximates emotions that are more obvious in other musics, be it Brahms or The Beatles. If you also happen to know that he died of liver cirrhosis in 1969, aged 44, you may even have the impression to listen to him dying slowly, a glass of whisky at hand, but, if the music is intimate, it is also playful, and fresh. Recently I saw Let’s Get Lost, a documentary about Chet Baker who seemed to be a real jerk, and who also died LOT later, for instance. I don’t know why, it doesn’t make any sense, but I like to think that Fruscella was a much nicer guy. One can read on his French wikipedia page that the critic Jean Wagner wrote that « Tony Fruscella est peut-être le trompettiste le plus triste et le plus désespéré de toute l’histoire du jazz ; une tristesse sans révolte, un désespoir mélancolique qui semble venir du fond des âges ». Of course, such sentimentalism is funny, but what the hell, Fruscella learned the trumpet in an orphanage! Can you imagine the gloominess of an American orphanage during the 30’s?!
Tony Fruscella - Tony Fruscella (1955)