Trombonist Steve Turre connects 'Generations' on his new album
As some say of music education, "you can't teach jazz, but you can learn it." Trombonist Steve Turre learned on the bandstand with legends like Art Blakey, Ray Charles, McCoy Tyner and others. Released today, Turre's album Generations honors the elders while passing on the artform to a new generation of jazz musicians.
Turre came of age playing salsa, blues and jazz in the San Francisco area. Arriving on the New York jazz scene in the early 70's, he became a first call trombonist with some of the finest musicians of the time. The avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk introduced Turre to playing seashells, and he's now the world's foremost shell player in jazz.
Fans of Saturday Night Live have been hearing his trombone and seeing his trademark beard with that show's band since 1982. His more than 20 albums as a leader and countless recordings as a side man show a pioneering virtuoso who's made his mark and then some in all kinds of music over his nearly 60-year career.
Turre's band on Generations includes emerging talents like pianist Isaiah J. Thompson, saxophonist Emilio Modeste, bassist Corcoran Holt and a pair of literal second-generation musicians. Trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr's late father was a frequent collaborator of Turre's, and his son Orion Turre is the band's drummer.
Over the course of Generations, this talented quintet is joined by some of today's top veteran jazz players like saxophonist James Carter, drummer Lenny White, guitarist Ed Cherry and percussionist Pedrito Martinez. Turre's combination of youth and experience provides him with equal parts enthusiastic energy and the wisdom of decades speaking the language of jazz.
The songs Turre presents on Generations further nod to influential musicians from across his career. The album's opening song "Planting the Ceed" acknowledges pianist Cedar Walton who played with Turre in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. It's a muscular hard bop swinger with a winding solo from Modeste and a bold, melodic statement from the band leader's trombone. Roney Jr's trumpet solo is confident and free flowing and Thompson's piano solo recall's Walton's love for progressive yet soulful modern bop.
One of Turre's early influences is honored on "Dinner with Duke". The future trombone star was in eighth grade when he first saw Ellington in concert with guests Coleman Hawkins and Ella Fitzgerald. The beautiful ballad melody is a just tribute to the concert that helped inspire a career.
Generations includes African, Latin and reggae rhythms and the blues, too. Turre also does double duty on trombone and his musical conch shell on "Flower Power," an extended piece with his young quintet featuring Lenny White behind the drum kit.
Steve Turre celebrated his 74th birthday earlier this week. Generations connects the past, present and future of jazz, and shows that Turre is an important part of each as he sustains and builds upon the jazz community.