The music scene in New York City may be a shadow of its former self, but at least the jazz trombone scene is alive and well. Trombonist Sarah Morrow is a native of Columbus, Ohio, who lists her favorite trombonists as J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Slide Hampton and Steve Turre. Ray Charles hired her in 1995, remaining a member of his orchestra until 1997, when she left to work with funk musicians including bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Catfish Collins, trombonist Fred Wesley and drummers Clyde Stubblefield and Jabbo Starks. She toured Europe with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater in 1998, and since that time has freelanced with saxophonists Ricky Ford and James Spaulding and pianist Hank Marr.
The release of Greenlight, originally released on the French label RDC, has further enabled Morrow to have a successful solo career in Europe. She sounds in excellent form on this session, having assembled a stellar band for the occasion: tenor saxophonist Antoine Roney, pianist James Hurt, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jaz Sawyer. Morrow has a wide, sound and a moderately adventurous, bop-rooted approach. Her compositions don't owe too much to any one influence, which by itself sets them apart from a lot of current small-group writing. On the ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is" her deep-toned smears evoke Vivian-era J.J. Johnson.
Greenlight is a strong debut by a talented trombonist.