1950 to 2000
July 18, 1928
October 10, 2003
Monroe, Louisiana, United States
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Fontana learned jazz music from his father Collie, a saxophonist and violin player, and first performed with his father's band while in high school. Fontana attended the school known today as University of Louisiana Monroe for two years. He then transferred to Louisiana State University, receiving his degree in Music Education in 1950. His first break into the professional jazz scene came the following year, when in 1951 he was hired to stand in for one of Woody Herman's regular trombonists, Urbie Green.