Steve Turre says he likes to play with elders because they “stretch me in ways of wisdom,” and he likes to play with youngsters because they “fire it up.” His latest album is rich with knowledge and alive with flame.
The core band is young: drummer Orion Turre (Steve’s son), trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr. (son of the trumpet great), pianist Isaiah J. Thompson, and saxophonist Emilio Modeste. The elders make selective but telling appearances: James Carter, Buster Williams, Lenny White and Ed Cherry. (Bassist Corcoran Holt straddles the generations.) This album could have been a miscellany, but it is held together by the force of one individual’s musical personality. Steve Turre is a world-class trombonist, a strong composer, and a bandleader who always has a plan.
The plan for Generations is to let the youngsters announce themselves and to give each of the elder their moment. On the opening track, “Planting the Ceed,” Modeste takes the first solo. He already has an identity. His touch is light but his passion causes ideas to spill from him and tumble over one another. Roney is sharp and concise. Thompson confirms the promise of his excellent 2021 album Composed in Color. The driving momentum starts and ends with the fusillades of Orion Turre. Through 10 tracks, these youngsters sound ready.
As for the elders, to cite just one example, James Carter almost steals the whole show with his solo on “Sweet Dreams.” Even on rapt ballads, Carter’s threat of explosiveness always lurks just below the surface.
One more thing about the plan: Generations documents the vast range of what a trombone can express in the right hands, including belligerent bluster, deadpan wit, and even, on a piece like “Dinner with Duke,” shameless heart-on-sleeve romanticism.