[Dixielandjazz] Re: Fonk

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Mon Jul 19 19:42:24 PDT 2004

I will certainly have to accept the definition of "Fonk" as mentioned 
by all of you Spike Jones experts.  However, there is a New Orleans 
jazz/funk fusion group led by Branford Marsalis called "Buckshot le 
Fonk" - I don't know if they found their name from the same place...

And what would you Tb experts call that signature low trombone "full 
note sound" Prez Prado used in many of his arrangements? I know that 
one takes some particular skill to do right (unless you have a 
multi-horn trombone section.)

Dave Richoux
On Jul 19, 2004, at 4:05 PM, Bill Haesler wrote:

> 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,
> Bill.
> Dear Bill [Gunter].
> Let us see if Don replies to the question via the DJML, before we post 
> the
> answer.
> 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
> later.
> Bill [Haesler].
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