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Bones of Art


Imagine an alternate universe. The planet is Earth, the year is 1959. A trombonist named Miles Davis wakes up one morning and decides to follow up his popular and groundbreaking album "Kind of Blue" with another album that will entertain the same enormous audience with music in a similar style. This never happened on our Earth. Miles Davis played the trumpet, and he changed his game frequently, always leaving legions of fans of his previous album perplexed and bewildered by his next. But trombonist Steve Turre has crafted a worthy successor to Kind of Blue on his trombone-intensive CD The Bones of Art.

"Bones" is short for trombones. "Art" is for Art Blakey, founder and leader of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.  Turre toured with the Jazz Messengers for years, and so did the three additional trombonists  on The Bones of Art, Steve Davis, Robin Eubanks, and Frank Lacy. Steve Turre was born in 1948, and began playing trombone in 1958. He is one of the world's preeminent jazz trombonists, and has played alongside Rahsaan Roland Kirk, J.J. Johnson, Chico Hamilton, Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Santana,  and even Laurie Anderson. He has been the regular trombonist on the Saturday Night Live band since 1984.

I love me some massed brass, and there is unison and harmonic trombone work in plenty here. Nothing would feel out of place in 1959. Most of the pieces are hard bop, with the band as a whole introducing a chorus, and then individuals each taking solo turns before the band returns as a unit. All the brass you hear is performed on trombone, with varying mutes providing different colors. Are conch shells brass? Turre has pioneered the jazz conch shell as serious musical instruments, and plays them in one cut.

Slides Ride and Sunset are great for massed brass. Fuller Beauty is modal and engaging. Daylight features a solo turn by Turre on conch shells.

--Gerald Etkind

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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