Few trombone players in Steve Turre’s generation have pushed the boundaries of their instrument further than he has. Born of the blue, hard bopping swing of JJ Johnson and the human speech-like growls and smears of Roswell Rudd, Mr. Turre has curled and fluttered his lips around the mouthpiece of his horn turning the brass bit into a mouthpiece that announces the triumph of humanity over long and mighty adversity.
Also, astonishingly, Mr. Turre bestrides a wide musical topography, from America to Africa and India as well, causing an elemental collision that has broken down several barriers between that ubiquitous wall that dams the flow of music from the great continent of Asia to that of Africa and America. For Mr. Turre, adding conches and other shells has opened the literature of jazz to welcome myriad idioms from India and elsewhere in the glorious continent of Asia.
Mr. Turre was urged to stretch himself and take risks to find perfect notes by the late trumpeter Woody Shaw with whom the trombonist made 14 records in a relationship that began in 1981. Now, just over thirty years later, Mr. Turre pays unique homage to his former employer in a masterful record that pits his horn in magical counterpoint with five magnificent trumpeters and recreates the fabulous setting, which he once shared with Mr. Shaw for almost a decade. The record, Woody’s Delight is an album that thrives on musical peaks as Mr. Turre shares the set with no less than five of the most exciting trumpeters playing today. This is magical as it sets up the musical sojourn for a variety of horn interpretations for Mr. Turre’s music that was composed essentially for this project, to honour the trumpet/trombone conversations he had with Mr. Shaw, throughout his tenure with the legendary band.
In Steve Turre’s hands the trombone becomes an extension of the human body. It growls and moans in pain; bleats and blathers with joy; celebrates great musical moments with raucous screams as well as dignified cheers and wails passionately when it is time to cry for a life lost in pain. Mr. Turre makes all of this possible with swirling lines that wobble and swing. These cries rise and fall like gigantic waves of sound that carve the air in monumental arcs circling the stratosphere in which he converses with the likes of trumpeters John Faddis and Wallace Roney, Claudio Roditi, Chocolate Armenteros and Freddie Hendrix. All the while, Mr. Turre is remembering his old mentor, employer and friend, Woody Shaw. And the music keeps pouring out of the bells of the trombone and the trumpet like forces of nature from vortices; this powerful music entwines and dances an interminable dance with African and Caribbean and Brazilian ecstasy as trombonist and trumpeter after trumpeter pay homage to their musical deity, Woody Shaw.
“Woody’s Delight” is a blues in G Minor, which roars with mighty glissandos as the trombonist and Mr. Faddis trade licks in the 12-bar blues format. “Something for Sweets” is written with a ghostly melody that recalls the great trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, who graced the 1930s Count Basie Orchestra; “In Retrospect” and “Luna” are both songs that are tinged with mysticism and magic and seem to have been written with the trumpet of Wallace Roney in mind. Played in magnificent wide harmonic intervals in the later song, Mr. Roney shows why he was regarded as an heir to the swaggering sarcasm of Miles Davis. Claudio Roditi`s Brazilian music is unique in that the “Brazilliance” is present in a spectral manner ever though the berimbau of percussion colourist, Duduka Da Fonseca seems to give it away in the beginning of the song. Chocolate Armenteros is spectacular on “Manny`s Mambo”. But the true revelation is the young Freddy Hendrix, who plays with an all-consuming fire and energy that rises up like a tongue of flame from his very soul to light up both “3 For Woody” and the spectacular, “Brother Bob”.
As this album winds down it becomes more obvious that there are few trombonists like Steve Turre. His boldness and utter fearlessness to dive head first into music seems to bring a vivid glow to every record that he makes. Woody`s Delight is no exception.
Tracks: Woody’s Delight; Something for Sweets; In Retrospect; Luna; Annette’s for Sure; Adios Mi Amigo; Manny’s Mambo; 3 for Woody; Brother Bob.
Personnel: Steve Turre: trombone and shells; John Faddis: trumpet (1, 2); Wallace Roney: trumpet (3, 4); Claudio Roditi: trumpet (5, 6); Chocolate Armenteros: trumpet (7); Freddie Hendrix: trumpet (8, 9); Xavier Davis: piano (1 – 4, 8, 9); Luis Perdomo: piano (5, 6, 7); Aruan Ortiz: Fender Rhodes (4); Buster Williams: bass (1 – 4); Andy Gonzalez: bass (6, 7); Corcoran Holt: bass (8, 9); Nilson Matta: bass (5); Dion Parson: drums (1 – 4, 8, 9); Duduka Da Fonseca: drums and percussion (5, 6); Jimmy Delgado: timbales and conga (6, 7); Pedro Martinez: bongos and campana; George Delgado: conga (7).
Steve Turre on the Web: www.steveturre.com
Label: HighNote Records
Release date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama