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Bob Enevoldsen

A longtime giant of the West Coast jazz landscape, Bob Enevoldsen trailed only Bob Brookmeyer as his generation's foremost practictioner of the valve trombone. Enevoldsen was born September 11, 1920, in Billings, MT. His Danish-born father was a professional violinist who conducted the orchestra at their local silent movie theater, and at age five Bob took up the instrument as well before moving to trombone several years later. Recurring lip troubles forced him to switch to clarinet and tenor saxophone while a student at the University of Montana, and he also adopted the double bass prior to joining the U.S. Air Force in 1942. Stationed in Utah, Enevoldsen settled in Salt Lake City following his 1946 military discharge, working as a tenor saxophonist until a colleague lent him a valve trombone. He found the fingering remarkably similar to the trumpet, but the instrument remained on the periphery of his vision after he joined the Utah Symphony as a clarinetist. On the advice of arranger Gene Roland, Enevoldsen relocated to Los Angeles in 1951, and began sitting in at local jazz clubs. As a skilled multi-instrumentalist, his fellow musicians embraced him with open arms and he soon signed on as the regular bassist with pianist Marty Paich's trio. Stints supporting Art Pepper and Shorty Rogers followed, and over time Enevoldsen made the valve trombone his instrument of choice, alternating between tenor sax during a lengthy run behind Shelly Manne at the legendary L.A. nightclub the Lighthouse. In 1954 Enevoldsen cut his first session as a bandleader for a self-titled LP on the Nocturne label. He later headlined dates for Tampa and Liberty as well, and even appeared in a pair of feature films, 1958's The Form of Jazz and the much-maligned 1960 adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel The Subterraneans. By the time of the latter's release Enevoldsen was living in Las Vegas, working in nightclubs there. He returned to L.A. in 1962 as a staff arranger and studio musician for television star Steve Allen, and spent the remainder of the decade focused almost exclusively on session work. During the 1970s he finally returned to live performance, replacing Brookmeyer in Gerry Mulligan's band before rejoining Paich in support of singer Mel Tormé. He also played in big bands led by Bill Holman and Roger Neumann, and continued performing in small-group settings until just weeks prior to his death from circulation problems on November 19, 2005.
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo

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