Freddie's Story (Part 4 of 5)
From his early years as burgeoning trombonist to parading in various marching ensembles to enrolling in the "School of Bourbon Street," Freddie Lonzo had many teachers and influences to establish his signature style.
Freddie's parents didn't have a record player in their home, so it was at his Aunt's house during the holidays where he was first exposed to the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Stan Kenton and Lionel Hampton, among others. As he became engrossed in the big band sounds, he bought a record player of his own. He purchased a lot of John Coltrane and Miles Davis albums; his brother would often play the Miles Davis track, "Someday My Prince Will Come." Their dad would play a lot of Nat King Cole on the radio - the song "Ramblin Rose" particularly stuck with Freddie.
It was his tenure in the "School of Bourbon Street" that exposed Freddie to the likes of Waldren "Frog" Joseph, Kid Ory, and the other elder statesmen of Traditional New Orleans Jazz who were still performing in various clubs around the French Quarter. Lonzo yearned to emulate trombonists like Wendell Eugene and Frog Joseph, working diligently to perfect his craft. During his free time, he would go to hear Frog perform and listen closely to his distinct approach.
During his time performing with The Storyville Jazz Band at Crazy Shirley's Freddie was exposed to a plethora of knowledge from his fellow musicians on the bandstand. The musicians would play a variety of styles from country compositions to big band to early R&B of the late '40s and '50s and traditional jazz. Trumpeter Teddy Riley, who Lonzo sites as another "unsung hero," would take a lot of time in guiding Freddie. "The band is like a basket ball team...he helped me find my place." Lonzo, who is particular to the "lower sounds," also sites the bassists George French and Gerald Adams as instrumental teachers and influences. He also includes the innumerable Louis Armstrong, Billy Holiday and Bing Crosby as inspirations.
Lonzo's playing can be described as "old-school tailgate style" of trombone. He listens a lot to the drummer and their accents to help enhance his sound. His tailgate style is in the middle range, leading to the booming, powerful sound Freddie elegantly produces to this day.
Photo courtesy of Harriet Blum and Hogan Jazz Archive, Special Collections, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Tulane University, April 1978. Freddie Lonzo, tb; during recording session at Ultrasonics Studio for Crescendo Records; LP entitled “New Orleans Parade” April 1978 - Ultrasonics Studio, New Orleans.