Vinyl Spotlight: Tony Fruscella (Atlantic EP-557) Original 45 RPM 7″ EP

Original 45 RPM 7″ pressing circa 1955


  • Tony Fruscella, trumpet
  • Chauncey Welsch, trombone
  • Allen Eager, tenor saxophone
  • Danny Bank, baritone saxophone
  • Bill Triglia, piano
  • Bill Anthony, bass
  • Junior Bradley, drums

“Muy” recorded March 29, 1955
“Metropolitan Blues” recorded April 1, 1955
All selections recorded at Capitol Studios, New York, NY


“Muy” (Sunkel)

“Metropolitan Blues” (Sunkel)

Though this seven-inch EP only contains two songs, they are both outstanding picks from an album that shares the same cover art. I had an encounter with an original pressing of the full LP about a year ago. The European seller graded it NM/M- on Discogs and it played with absolutely terrible distortion on the trumpet. When I asked the seller about it he said “the European grading system is different than the U.S.” Anyway, it was unlistenable and I sold it. This EP, on the other hand, sounds great. It wasn’t pressed terribly loud but the vinyl is clean, the music is dynamic, and the top end is crisp. There is a second EP that is meant to match this one with red lettering and I’m on the hunt for that one now.

I won’t review the whole LP here, which is phenomenal (I currently own a digital copy that sounds great and I’m also considering a Japanese “mini-LP” CD). I was surprised to learn from the back of the album jacket that Tom Dowd did not record this. It was recorded by an engineer named Frank Abbey, who I admittedly know nothing about. Abbey gets an even, dry sound — both qualities of which I think are present on most of my favorite jazz recordings.

The music, generally sweet and quiet, was written by Phil Sunkel, another guy I didn’t know about until I started researching this album. He wrote both sides here and seven out of nine songs on the album. I find it especially interesting (and tragic of course) that a relatively lesser-known composer like Sunkel could pen an album of such cohesive quality yet fail to have many more impressive credits to their name.

Fun fact: Tony Fruscella was one of the earliest musicians to record at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hackensack home studio. According to my research, I have him recording there as early as January 30, 1952 for a Bill Triglia session (who plays piano here as well). Another fun fact: I have been through Rudy’s collection of acetates and he still has the acetate from that session, so there’s a good chance that the world will hear it at some point! This would technically be the fifth-oldest recording of Rudy’s we would have.