Trombonist Steve Turre carries such deep history with him—roadwork and/or recordings with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Tito Puente, Lester Bowie, McCoy Tyner, among others—and that history informs every note he plays. On Rainbow People, his HighNote followup to 2006’s superb Keep Searchin’, Turre brings that depthful expression to bear on a set of exhilarating originals and two well-chosen covers. Fellow veterans Mulgrew Miller on piano and Kenny Garrett on alto sax add their own seasoning, along with exciting newcomer Sean Jones on trumpet, while the rhythm section is ably anchored by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Ignacio Berroa.
On the McCoy Tyner-ish title track, Miller’s provocative piano voicings and rhythmic comping help spur on heightened solos by both Turre and Garrett. Miller enhances the proceedings with an outstanding, harmonically probing solo of his own. Miller fuels the slow-moving modal number “Forward Vision” while Turre testifies on trombone. Jones, the kid of the session at age 30, also offers a bold, brash high note solo here that ignites the track. Turre delves into some deep blue territory on “Brother Ray,” a soulful tribute to his mentor, the late Mr. Charles. His bluesy vocal phrasing and startling plunger work are augmented by Miller’s churchified piano comping and downhome soloing that hearken back to his Mississippi roots.
“Groove Blues” is just that, a simple shuffle with an infectious feel that Garrett, Turre and Miller jump on with earthy gusto. Dig Washington’s fat, walking bass lines here. Elsewhere, they turn in an emotionally powerful reading of Tyner’s hauntingly beautiful ballad “Search for Peace” (from his 1967 Blue Note debut, The Real McCoy) and burn their way through Charlie Parker’s chopsbusting “Segment” with boppish aplomb, highlighted by Garrett’s audacious alto solo and the requisite exchanges of frantic eights between each soloist and drummer Berroa. Turre and his all-star crew close out in soothing fashion with the affecting cha-cha “Para el Comandante,” a tribute to the late tenor saxophonist and salsero Mario Rivera that features outstanding solos by Garrett, Jones and Miller, along with a stunning shell solo from Turre and some significant contributions by Afro-Cuban percussion master Pedro Martinez.
In an age where young trombonists seem more attracted to the multiphonic experiments of players like Albert Mangelsdorff, Turre is decidedly old school, still out there waving the flag for bop elders like JJ Johnson, Curtis Fuller and Slide Hampton.