VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
22 JUL 08 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Steve Turre's third Telarc date One 4 J is a trombone freak's Holy Grail, with one of the finest trombonists of the past three decades celebrating the life and legacy of J.J. Johnson, who is considered by many to be the greatest and most innovative 'bone player of all time.
The album features Turre jamming with fellow trombonists Robin Eubanks, Joe Alessi, Steve Davis, Andre Hayward and Douglas Purviance on 11 tracks, including nine Johnson compositions. For the contemporary fan of the instrument, this explosive project works as a fun-filled primer on Johnson's illustrious history; his five decades in jazz included key associations with Benny Carter, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet, Miles Davis and Kai Winding.
But, it's also a good intro to Turre's nearly as star studded, high impact career in modern jazz. He learned to play conch shells -- his longtime trademark -- from Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the late-'60s and later gigged with Ray Charles, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Woody Shaw, Elvin Jones, Tito Puente, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Dizzy and McCoy Tuner. The genesis of One 4 J came in the mid-'90s when Johnson asked Turre and Eubanks to tour and possibly record with him in a trombone trio. Johnson retired from performing before these collaborations could happen, but Turre and Eubanks had this tribute project in mind long before Johnson, suffering from prostate cancer, took his own life in 2001.