[Dixielandjazz] Re: Fonk

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Mon Jul 19 16:05:13 PDT 2004

Dear Don,
Ta mate (as we say 'down-under').
I knew you would come up with the real facts.
Here (for general information) is what I sent to Bill Gunter off-list.
You, thankfully, have confirmed it.
Very kind regards,

Dear Bill [Gunter].
Let us see if Don replies to the question via the DJML, before we post the
However, my definition is that it is indeed a low trombone note.
There is a letter from trombonist Art Most to the Spike Jone's
biographer/discographer Jack Mirtle, reproduced in the booklet to the 'Fonk'
CD, which says (in part):
"The "Fonk". During WW2, and while in the US Coast Guard Band, I heard King
Jackson play a Fonk while preluding his lip before a job. I thought the
sound was amusing and asked him how he did it. But King took the
"trade-secret" amendment and wouldn't tell me. Shortly after the war, while
I was rehearsing a radio show, one of the trombonists played a Fonk. I asked
him how it was done, and he said to blow "too-eee" into the horn... I tried
it a few times and soon got a nod from the other trombonist. I had it
mastered. But to be more specific in the technique, the "too" starts the
lips to vibrating for the tone which is followed immediately by the tongue
taking the long e position in the mouth as though it was spoken. Actually
the "eee" that gives it the "Fonk!" The Fonk works best in the middle
regester [sic] of the horn. Whether the Fonk can be produced on a trumpet, I
don't know. You might try it. Incidentally, in your letter of March, 1984
you were the only one, as I remember, who ever referred to the trick as a
Fonk. But Fonk was so onomatopoetic that I knew what you meant immediately."
Jack Mirtle discusses the Fonk on page 245 of his book 'Thank You Music
Lovers'. Art Most, who played with Abe Lyman (1936-1941) and was an exponent
of the "gabba-gabba". King Jackson was the Fonk expert.  Most and Jackson
took part in the Spike Jones' "Charleston/Black Bottom" session for Victor
in Dec 1949. I think there is a Fonk on one of these sides and will check
Bill [Haesler].

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