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Steve Turre: ‘bone Voyage

Steve Turre

With J.J. Johnson curtailing his public appearances and Curtis Fuller slowed by ongoing illness, the chief keeper of the jazz trombone flame in the grand tradition of the masters is Steve Turre. Now in his late 40s and on the cusp of mid-career, the Bay Area native is more active than ever, with projects that range from leadership of straight-ahead quartets, to a sextet that includes his exceptional cellist wife Akua, on up to the 13-piece ensemble he’s touring this summer, not to mention occasional salsa and Latin jazz work, his bread and butter gig with the Saturday Night Live band, and the sideman work he still relishes with the likes of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Steve is likely the busiest exponent of his instrument in contemporary music. The summer ’97 tour is on the heels of his new, finely crafted, and eponomously titled album for Verve, his sixth as a leader.

Dating back to his work with the likes of the Ray Charles band, through a stint with the Chico Hamilton band (which found him on Fender bass for a minute), time spent in Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the ground-breaking brass- proud frontline he shared with trumpeter Woody Shaw for four years and 12 recordings, and with Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s keening Vibration Society, Steve Turre has been on a continuing upward development curve. Going through his recorded history one hears an obvious broadening and rounding of his tromboneliness, honing it to the superb, full sound he gets today. During our recent conversation from his New Jersey home, he explained that trombone mastery is an ongoing proposition. “I’m still working at it,” he suggested. “Its one of those things you work at throughout your whole life. Sound is the most beautiful thing and if you’ve got a pretty sound you can just hit one note and it sounds good. I’ve always been striving to have as beautiful a sound as I can.”

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