|2. ||Wee Dot
|4. ||One 4 J
|5. ||Mr. Johnson
|6. ||Short Cake
|8. ||What Is This Thing Called Love?
|9. ||El Camino Real
|11. ||Minor Blues
Steve Turre - trombone
Joe Alessi -- trombone
Steve Davis -- trombone
Robin Eubanks -- trombone
Andre Hayward -- trombone
Victor Lewis -- drums
Douglas Purviance -- trombone
Stephen Scott -- piano
Peter Washington -- bass
Renee Rosnes -- piano
Abou M'Boup -- African percussion
"J.J. Johnson singlehandedly brought the trombone into the modern age, and ultimately into the twenty-first century." -Steve Turre, from the liner notes
In a career that spanned six decades, the late J.J. Johnson is considered by many to be the finest jazz trombonist of all time. An innovator on a par with titans like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Johnson established a reputation early on as not only a highly skilled player but a prolific composer as well. Despite his death in February 2001, his legacy remains an inspiration-not just to trombonists but to jazz musicians of every ilk.
Among Johnson's countless disciples is trombonist Steve Turre, who assembled five highly talented colleagues to pay tribute to the master who introduced slide trombone to the bebop idiom more than half a century ago. One 4 J: Paying Homage To J.J. Johnson is a project whose genesis dates back to the mid '90s, when Johnson first called Turre and trombonist Robin Eubanks to tour and possibly record with him in a trombone trio. Johnson retired from public performances before the project could get off the ground, but Turre and Eubanks pondered its potential for the next few years.
One 4 J is a slightly different version of the original concept. This collection of 11 tracks-mostly Johnson compositions-features Turre and Eubanks prominently, but also makes room for trombonists Joe Alessi, Steve Davis, Andre Hayward and Douglas Purviance. Assisted by pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis, Turre and his five guest trombonists come together in a sometimes rollicking, sometimes poignant, but ultimately compelling tribute to their departed mentor.
Check out what Turre himself has to say about some of more noteworthy tracks on the recording:
"Overdrive": "An uptempo piece written by J.J. in the '60s for his trombone and tenor quintet. It's a very slick tune and a challenge to play. I wrote this new arrangement for the two-trombone quintet, and it features Robin and myself."
"Wee Dot": "A blues jam on one of J.J.'s most famous tunes...The arrangement is by yours truly, and is for a four-trombone ensemble...Andre tastefully hits with soul and swing."
"Lament": "This amazing arrangement for four trombones was written by the incomparable Slide Hampton. It sounds so much bigger than just four horns, and demonstrates Slide's profound gifts in arranging, voicing and harmony."
"One 4 J": "An original by yours truly...None of us playing trombone today would be playing on the level if it weren't for the innovations that J.J. left for us to learn. He was a dream for the modern trombonist."
Turre and his gifted cohorts make the dream a reality on One 4 J, a tribute to a jazz trombone legend who inspired not only them but an entire generation of ardent and talented followers.
* Anilda Carrasquillo - Art Direction
* Anthony Rutolo - Assistant Engineer
* Earl McIntyre - Arranger
* Jack Frisch - Design, Photography
* Jimmy Katz - Photography
* Myles Weinstein - Producer
* Robert Friedrich - Engineer, Mastering, Mixing
* Robert Woods - Executive Producer
* Slide Hampton - Arranger
Leaving his conch shells -- and more offbeat ideas -- home this time, Steve Turre's motive for this release was to honor the fountainhead of bop (and thus, modern jazz) trombone, J.J. Johnson, who had tragically taken his own life in 2001 in the face of a terminal illness. In doing so, Turre loads his front line with nothing but trombones -- as many as six, but usually fewer. Besides himself, the other trombonists on the album are Robin Eubanks, Steve Davis, Andre Hayward, Douglas Purviance, and New York Philharmonic principal trombonist Joe Alessi (who also plays good jazz). It's a fairly conservative recording by Turre's standards, with an emphasis mostly on the straight-ahead bop that Johnson championed. Indeed, many of the duo-trombone charts sound like latter-day echoes of the famous K and J.J. (Kai WindingJ.J. Johnson) records of the 1950s and '60s. But there are, thankfully, exceptions to the pattern as the disc unfolds -- which is only right since Johnson himself displayed an experimental streak away from bop now and then. "Mr. Johnson," penned by Harold Mabern when he was Lee Morgan's pianist and not unrelated to Morgan's own "Mr. Kenyatta," switches to a modal vamp; "Kelo" is treated to a mild yet unmistakable funk backbeat; and "Wee Dot" is a blues jam with a difference, modulating up the scale in five different keys just to give everyone a challenge. Turre also borrows Slide Hampton's full-sounding, infinitely subtle four-trombone chart of "Lament" and adds Senegalese percussionist Abdou Mboup to drive "Minor Blues." Ultimately it is Turre who makes the most individual impression among the soloists, particularly in his quirkier moods on plunger ("Kelo") and with a Harmon mute ("El Camino Real"). Pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Victor Lewis comprise the standard-issue rhythm section. Turre's liner notes for each track are so detailed -- a virtual play-by-play -- that you almost don't have to hear the CD in order to know what's on it. But do hear it anyway.
--- Richard S. Ginell, All Music Guide
"Turre melds his bop conception and his love of exotic rhythms..." -- JazzTimes
"Turre's labor of love keeps the J.J. Johnson flame alive and proves there's plenty of talented trombonists around to help keep it burning bright." -- All About Jazz
"...these trombone masters give more than a nod to the boss. Solid. Swinging. Buy!" -- Jazz Now
"...the CD is imbued with a spirit of respect and a sense of fondness that only those who performed with The Master could possess." -- JazzReview.com
"Turre not only showcases J.J.'s playing, which defined modern jazz trombone, but he also highlights Johnson's considerable songwriting and arranging skills." *** 1/2 -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"[Turre is] J.J. Johnson' greatest heir." -- New York Sun
"...lithe, lyrical and loose-limbed..." -- Times Herald Record
"...rings with Johnson's ebullient swing and fluid improvisations." -- Amazon.com
"Turre merges professionalism and passion in a fine brew of brass." -- MIdwest Record Recap
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