The regular posting of the “Farewells” included in JazzTimes’ March 2019 print edition will continue through the end of this month on JazzTimes.com. Each piece features a prominent jazz figure offering his or her recollections of a member of the jazz community who left us during 2018. This online exclusive tribute to Urbie Green by Michael Dease is being presented for the first time here.
Ask any experienced jazz or commercial brass player which faces should appear on the Mount Rushmore of trombonists, and you’ll hear the name Urbie Green more often than most. Believe the hype; Urbie could do it all. His melodic playing and improvising made him a hero to legendary trombonists like Bill Watrous and Tom Malone, and his recordings as a leader further elevated the popularity of the trombone as established by Tommy Dorsey, who’d been such a key influence on Frank Sinatra’s phrasing. Indeed, Urbie’s trombone style was so effortless, fluid, and natural-feeling that he was frequently given the moniker a “trombonist’s trombonist,” meaning that any trombonist would play like that if he or she could.