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Bottoms Out

[founded in 2005, led by Joe Fonda]

Quote from Robert D. Rusch’s producer’s notes

When I began speaking with Joe Fonda (b.1954, Amsterdam, NY), in mid December 2004, he spoke with much passion and vision. Joe said (about the music) he’d "been hearing this music in my head for low instruments over years" and that during that time he had been writing the music as it came to him. By December of 2004 he had over ten compositions; "I can tell you, as a composer, when the music comes to me without being at a piano or bass or guitar, it’s the best and most powerful music that I have and it doesn’t happen that often but when it does it’s powerful."

Bottoms Out

Bottoms Out at the Gulbenkian Jazz Em Agosto Festival, Lisbon, Portugal, August 9, 2007 © Bruce Miltied
from left: Gerry Hemingway, Joe Fonda, Joe Daley, Michael Rabinowitz, Claire Daly, Gebhard Ullmann

I admitted that I could not readily fix on the combination but since he seemed to have such clarity of the vision, if he could bring together the particular group then Iwould assist with a CIMP production.

And so we met, beginning on September 15th, to hear Joe’s music realized by "a group of players I think will do it justice," a group he has associated with over these past many years.

Those players are: Joe Daley (b.1949, NYC, NY), probably best known forhis tenure with Sam Rivers and in particular The Tuba Trio. Claire Daly (b.1958, Bronxville, NY), one of the very brightest lights of the next generation of bari players, on the scene since the early ’80s. She was a mainstay for years in the band Diva. Gebhard Ullmann (b.1957, Bad Godesberg, Germany) also has been recording and leading groups since the early 1980s and was on Joe’s Full Circle Suite (CIMP 198) and also co-led a 2004 CIMP date with Steve Swell (#315). Michael Rabinowitz (b.1955, New Haven, CT) first came to my attention in the Mosaic Sextet, a late ’80s/early ’90s group which also included Joe. Everybody knows who Michael is even if they don’t know his name. Gerry Hemingway (b.1955, New Haven, CT) came into my consciousness in the late ’70s as a member of a fertile improvising music scene which seemed to have its genesis in the New Haven/New England area. Since then he has been ubiquitous on the creative improvising music scene, including a long and productive tenure with Anthony Braxton as well as being a leader in his own right.

Critics about Bottoms Out

This is contrabass phenomenon,... Great composing from Mr. Fonda...
Bruce Lee Gallanter in his review of Bottoms Out’sLoaded Basses

... Given that Fonda is used to thinking in low terms, his tunes make best use of the breadth at hand and he is not afraid of those quiet moments or thickly-spread melodies. Listeners who aren’t either should pick up this disc.
Andrey Henkin in his review of Bottoms Out’s Loaded Basses

Related recordings

Related photo galleries

Upcoming Performance

Fonda Stevens Group

  • Joe Fonda, Bass
  • Michael Jefry Stevens, Piano
  • Harvey Sorgen, Drums
  • Herb Robertson, Trumpet
Luzanne Switzerland Friday, 24 March

Joe Fonda, visit the photo gallery

Joу Fonda, playing bass, img 2