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AnInterviewwithSteveTurre

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AnInterviewwithSteveTurre
BobBernotas

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"WhenIwastenyearsold,Iwantedtoplayviolin,"SteveTurre
recallswithalaugh."Mydadsaid,'Beginningviolinsoundslikeacat
inthealley.Pickahorn.'Wewereataparadeandthetrombones
wereoutfront,becauseoftheslides.Isaid,'Oooh,thatlooksneat.'I
wantedtotryit.ThefirsttimeIplayedit,Ilikedit."
Bythetimehewas13TurrewasgiggingaroundhisnativeBayArea
withhisolderbrotherMike,asaxophonist.AsTurrematured,thegigs
justkeptcomingRahsaanRolandKirk,RayCharles,ArtBlakey'sJazz
Messengers,theThadJonesMelLewisJazzOrchestra,etcuntilhe
grewintooneofourmostaccomplished(andvisible)trombonists.
Since1986,TurrehasbeenaregularmemberoftheSaturdayNightLiveband,agigthathelpspay
thebillsandallowshimtoexplorelesslucrative,butmoresatisfying,musicalavenues.
Turreisalsotheundisputedkingoftheshellplayers.InspiredbyRahsaanRolandKirk,hebegan
experimentingwithseashellsintheearly1970s.Sincethenhehasmasteredthecraftofcreating
musicalinstrumentsoutofNeptune'scastaways,trainedmanyofhisbrasscolleaguestoplaythem,
andformedashellchoir.Turre's1993release,SanctifiedShells(Antilles),openedupmanyearsto
thewarm,peacefulbeautyofhisshellmusic.
Butmostofall,Turreis,asaperceptivewriteroncedescribedhim,a"tromboneevangelist."Tiredof
thetrumpetsaxophonemonopoly,heisouttherespreading"theGospelaccordingtoJ.J.andSlide,"
demandingdueattentionandrespectforhisinstrument.

You'vespentsometimeinacademicsettings,firstasastudentandlaterasateacher.
I'dliketohearyourviewsonjazzeducation.
Generallyspeaking,thereareafewinstitutions,likeBerklee,NorthTexas,Indiana(becauseofDavid
Baker),WilliamPaterson,thatofferadegreeinjazz.Butmostschools,eventheonesthatoffera
degreeinjazz,treatjazzlikeasecondclassmusiccomparedtoEuropeanclassicalmusic,whenin
fact,jazzisAmerica'sclassicalmusic.
Whydowealwayshavetosay,"I'mbetterthanyou?"Andwhydoesithavetobe,"It'seitherthis
oneorthatone?"They'rebothquality,worldclassartforms.IwouldputCharlieParkerupwithLiszt
oranygreatclassicalmusician.
Europeanclassicalmusicispartoftherootofjazz,butit'snotallofit.Theharmonicconceptionof

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jazzcomesfromthat.ButthemainthingthatmakesjazzdifferentistheAfricanconnection,the
rhythmicconcept,andthecollectiveconsciousnessandtheimprovisationandtheresponsorial
structureofAfricanmusic.Butbecauseofslaveryandthere'sstillalotofracisminthiscountry
therearealotoflingeringeffectstoovercome.
Also,whenyouarethemajorclassicalschoolinacity,say,Julliard,ManhattanSchoolofMusic,San
FranciscoConservatory,BostonConservatory,eachofthesemajorcitieshasasymphonyorchestra.
Thefacultyattheseschoolsareprofessional,workingclassicalmusicians.They'reteachingatthe
schoolsandtheyareouttheredoingit.
Butwhatwehaveinstitutionalizedinthiscountryinjazzeducationalthoughit'sstartingtochange
isthatinalotoftheschoolsthathavejazz,thepeopleareteachingbecausetheycouldn'tmakeit
playing.Theydon'thaveanyideawhatswingingisabout.Theyhaven'tbeenoutthere.Theyhaven't
evenbeentoNewYork.Andsotheyteachyousomewatereddownstuff,insteadoftellingyouhow
itis,'causetheydon'treallyknowhowitis.
Nowthat'sstartingtochange.JackieMcLeanisupinHartford,RufusReidisouthereinWilliam
Paterson,andDavidBakerisinIndiana.Butnonetheless,thereshouldbeawayforrealmusiciansto
continueperformingandstillteach.
AlsoandIwanttostressthisexplicitlyfromwhatI'vediscoveredinmyclinics,thekids,withrare
exception,havebigproblemswithrhythm.Alotofthemunderstandtheirscalesandtheirchanges
andthey'velearnedtunesandstuff,buttheyhaveahardtimeswingingwiththeAfricanconceptof
rhythm.Sotheyneedtoteachrhythm.

Maybetheseschoolsshouldhave,forinstance,anAfricanmasterdrummerinresidence.And
hecoulddodrumclasses,becausethat'stherootofthemusic.Thestrongeryoumakethe
root,thestrongerthetreeis,themorefruititwillbear,thetalleritwillgrow.
Doyoufeelthatitisnecessaryforastudentmusiciantogotheacademicroutein
ordertodevelopasajazzplayer?
Doyouknowwhatschool'sgoodfor?Schoolisgoodforreadingandwriting.Youlearntoreadmusic,
youlearntowritemusic,youlearnyourmusictheory,youlearnyoursightsinging,dictation,
counterpoint,arranging.It'sgoodforthesekindsofthings,skills.Schoolisnotgoingtoteachyou
howtoplay.IlearnedhowtoplayworkingwithArtBlakey,McCoyTyner,WoodyShaw,Rahsaan
RolandKirk.Ilearnedhowtoreadandwriteintheschool.
Butitallhelps.Anythingthat'sgoingtohelpmetobeabettermusician,I'lldo.IfIhavetogoto
schoolforafewyearstolearntoreadI'llbehappytohavethatopportunity,becauseifIcanread
well,itwillenablemetoworkalotmoregigsthanifIcan't.Anditwillenablemetowritemymusic
down,notonlytogetitrecorded,butsootherpeoplecanplayitandIcangetsomepublishing.So
fromaneconomicpointofviewschoolhasbenefits,too.

Startingearlyon,andthroughoutyourwholecareer,you'vehadthechancetowork
withsomeofthetruemastersofjazz.Couldyoutalkabouthowthesepeople
influencedyouasamusician?
IguessIwanttohighlightitchronologically.ThefirstcontactIhadthatreally,reallychangedmylife
wasRahsaanRolandKirk.Thiswasmyfirstyearoutofhighschool.IsatinwithRahsaanattheJazz
WorkshopinSanFranciscoanditfeltlikewehadbeenplayingtogetherallourlives.Itclicked
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immediately.We'dbreatheinthesameplace.Wewouldphrasethesame,intuitively.Iwasjustable
totapintohisbrainwaves.There'sbeentwopeopleinmylifethatthishashappenedwithRahsaan,
andlaterwithWoodyShaw.
Wereallystruckupawonderfulfriendship,andeverytimehewouldcomethroughSanFranciscohe
wouldcallmeforthegig.Iwasakid.He'dgiveme50bucksforworkingsixnightsandI'dbehappy.
Itwasarealinspirationanditencouragedmetocontinue.
See,IhadbeenawareofNewOrleansandtailgate,andthensomeonegavemeaJ.J.recordandI
tappedintothat,andsomeofthemoremodernmusicthatcameafterthatCurtisFuller,Julian
Priester.ButRahsaanmademeawarethatIwasmissingaveryimportantlinkinthechain,andthe
chainisonlyasstrongasitsweakestlink.HeturnedmeontoVicDickensonandTrummyYoungand
DickieWellsandJ.C.HigginbothamandJackTeagardenthecatsfromtheswingperiodthatwere
betweenJ.J.andKidOry.You'vegottobuildthehousefromthefoundationonup.Rahsaanstressed
thistomeandItookittoheart.
ThefirsttravelingIdidwaswithRayCharles.IauditionedandwonaspotwithRay'sbandfor1972
andItouredwithhimthatyear.Imainlywasjustplayinginthebigband.Igotafewsolosnowand
then,butitwassuchathrilltohearhimsingeverynight.
Andhearinghimsingtaughtmealotaboutphrasing.SureIlikeCharlieParker,too,butallRay'sgot
todoissingaslowbluesanditknocksmeoutjustasmuch.Itisn'tabouthowmanynotesyouplay
orhowhighyouplayorhowfastyouplay.It'saboutwhatyou'resaying,whetheritbesloworfast.
AndRayreallyrungabellwithmeonthat,'causewhateverhedoes,he'sfeelingit.
WhenRay'stourwasoverattheendoftheyearIwasbackintheBayAreaandImetupwith
WoodyShaw.Isatinwithhimandweclickedandbecameveryclosefriends.Hesaid,"Listen,intwo
weeksArtBlakey'scomingthroughtown.HewantsmetodothegigwithhimandIwantyouto
comedownandsitin."
SoWoodyintroducedmetoArtandIsatin,andthenArtaskedmeinhisfamousvoice[imitating
Blakey],"WanttojointheJazzMessengersandgotoNewYork?"Isaid,"Well,when?"Andhesaid,
"Now.Packyourbags,we'regoing."Iwasexcitedandnervousandthrilledtodeathallatthesame
time.Itwaslikeadreamcometrue.
AndtheverynextdayafterIsatintheywereintherecordingstudio.Woodywantedmetobethere
andhesaiditwascoolwithArt.HewroteoutsomeharmonypartsonacoupleofthetunesandIsat
inonablues,andIwasscaredtodeath.
AfterthatgigattheKeystoneKornerinSanFranciscowecameeast.WeplayedinSt.LouisatLa
Casa,attheJazzShowcaseinChicago,andthenextthingIknowhereweareinNewYorkCityat
theVillageGate.Boy!Andthat'swhereImetCurtisFuller,openingnightthere.We'vereallyhada
wonderfulfriendshipsincethenandhe'sbeennothingbutaninspirationtome.
PlayingwithArtBlakey,thethingsthathe'dputonyoumusicallywouldtakeyouyearstorealize.
"Where'reyougoin'?Don'tplayeverythingyouknowinyourfirstchorus.Takeyourtime.Tella
story."Youknow,allthosekindofthings:howtobuildasolo,notjustgooutthereandstartplaying.
Andsothatwas"graduateschool."ArtBlakeyandtheJazzMessengers,thatwasadegreeright
there.

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It'sfunny,duringthatperiod,itwasn'tpopulartoplaywithArtBlakey.Allthepresswasgoingto
fusion,whichwasthenewkidontheblock,andfreejazz.AndIplayedfreejazzIstilldoandIlike
allthecatsandeverything.IrememberatthattimeAnthonyBraxtonwasmakingthatbigdouble
albumhedidwiththelargeensemble,andthetitlesweremathematicalformulas.Iknewalotofthe
guysinthebandandtheywantedmetoplayontherecord.
Isaid,"Well,IgotagigwithArtBlakey.""Ohman,laterforthatoldshit.That'sdead,man.Thisis
what'shappeningnow.Thisisthefuture."
Isaid,"Yeah,butArt'smusiciskickingmybutt.IfIwalkawayfromthatmusicnow,beforeI've
masteredwhatithastoteachme,howamgonnaplaythiseffectively?I'dbeshootingmyself."But
youknowwhat'sfunny?I'mgladthatIdidn'twalkawayfromthatschool.I'vebeenwitheverybody
nowandthattraininghasservedmeingoodsteadalltheseyears.
ButArtwasn'tworkingalot.I'dworktwoweeksamonthforthatperiod.Itwasaslowperiodfor
him,butitwaswonderful.JonFaddiswasplayingleadtrumpetwiththeThadJonesMelLewis
orchestra.IwenttoseehimattheVanguardandhesaid,"Steve,weneedatromboneplayerforthe
tourthissummerinEurope.Whydon'tyousitin?"IsatinandThadaskedmetojointheband.And
soIleftArtandtouredwithThadandMel,andthatwasarealmilestoneforme'causethat'sthe
bestbigbandIeverplayedwith.Itwasincredible.
AnditwasnotjustThad'swriting.ItwasThad'sconducting,thewayhewouldcommandtheband
andchangethechartseverynight.Whilesomebody'splayingasolohe'dgiveyouaudibleslikea
quarterbackandthechartwouldcomeoutalittledifferenteverytime.Itwouldn'tjustbe,"Readit
downfromtoptobottom."Therewasnoroutineaboutthething.Itwasalwaysaliveandfreshand
somethingunexpectedwouldhappen.
Itwassuchawonderfulband.Iusedtogetthechillsandbumpssittinginthesectionhearingthe
musicaroundme.Whatittaughtmeaboutblendandensembleplayingwasinvaluable.AndIused
togobyThad'sroomsometimesandhe'dbewritingscoresandI'daskhimquestionsaboutwriting
thathaveprovedinvaluabletomethroughtheyears.
ThenextmajorthingwaswhenWoodyShawhadtheconcertensembleandhedidhisfirstrecord
dateinNewYorkforMuse,whichwascalledTheMoontrane.ThatwasmyfirstrecordingwithWoody
anditalsothefirsttimeoneofmytuneshadbeenrecorded.Woodyshowedmehowtoopenmy
publishingcompany.Soitwasmonumentalformeinmanyways.Iworkedonandoffwiththe
ConcertEnsembleuntilIjoinedhisquintetin'81through'85.
Thenthenextmajorinfluence,orturningpoint,wasafterRahsaan'sstroke.Heaskedmetojoinhis
bandwhenhemadehiscomebackandIworkedwithhimfortwoyears,untilhisdeparture.That
wasanotherinstitution,theVibrationSociety.Thatwasschool.
Butitwasn'tschoolthesamewayasRayorArtorWoody.Itwasmoreofahistoricalperspective,
butonthegig.RahsaanwouldplayNewOrleansorEllingtonandbehimselfwithinthat,butstillbe
authentic.Itwasn'tsuperficial.Itwasheartfeltandtruetothegroove,feeling,andstyleofthe
music.
Andthattaughtmeabouttheseguyswhohavethisattitude:"Ifyourmusicdoesn'tsoundlikeMiles'
quintetwithTony,Wayne,Herbie,andRon,ifyou'renotplayingthatkindofbag,thenyou'renot
playingreallyhip."That'sjustnottrue!Ilovethewholefamily.It'sallvalidtome.Anyway,Rahsaan
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wasaboutreallyputtingmyfoundationinorder,thosetwoyearswithhim.
RahsaanwastheonlybandleaderthatIeverworkedforthatnotonlypaidus,buthetookthetaxes
outandhealsodidunemployment.Whenwewereoffhesaid,"Iwantyoutobethereforme,so
I'mgonnadoyourunemployment.Whenyou'reoff,youcangetyourlittlecheck,takesomeother
gigs,butifIcallyou,yougottobethere."Letmetellyou,whenhepassedawayIappreciatedthat
somuchbecauseitgavemeabaseforalittlebit'tilIcouldgetworkingwithsomeotherbands.
FortwoyearsIwenttoUniversityWithoutWallsandgotabachelor'sdegreeattheUniversityof
Massachusetts.WhileIwasdoingthat,IwasworkingwithCedarWalton'squintet,withtrombone
andtenor.ThatwaspolishingtheBlakeyexperience.Cedarissuchamarvelousaccompanist,he
spoilsyou.It'ssoeasytoplaywithhim.
NextIworkedwithSlideHamptonandtheWorldofTrombones.Slideisnotonlyadearfriendandan
inspiration,butalsoawonderfulhumanbeing.Andhemademerealizetheimportanceofopening
mysoundupandbeingconsistentinyourperformance.That'saverybigchallenge,consistency,and
hereallygotonmeaboutthat.IntheWorldofTrombonesthereweretwosectionstwofoursand
theninthtrombonewasSlideandJaniceRobinsonandIwerethesplitleadineachofthetwo
sections.Andthatwasarealchallenge.IalsoplayedwiththeCollectiveBlackArtistsinNewYorkfor
acoupleofyearsunderSlide'sdirection.
Thenextreal,realbigthingwaswhenIjoinedWoody'squintet.Itwasjusttromboneandtrumpet.
Andthatwasveryunusual,'causeeventoday,threequartersofthegroupsouttherearetrumpet
saxophone,trumpetsaxophone,trumpetsaxophone,trumpetsaxophone,trumpetsaxophone.I'm
sosickoftrumpetsaxophone.
It'sjustgettingredundant,'causeyou'renotgoingtogetanybetterthanDizandBirdorSonny
RollinsandCliffordBrownorMileswithTraneorMileswithWayneorWoodyShawandJoeHenderson
withHoraceSilver.Imean,it'sallkindofarehashofthat.It'sagreatsound.Istillloveit,butthat's
theonlysoundthat'southere.
Woodytookachanceanddidatromboneandtrumpetthing.Thepeoplelovedit,buttheclub
ownersusedtogivehimalotofgrief.Digthis:theclubwaspacked,thepeoplewouldlovetheband,
sayitwasafreshsound,he'dgetgoodreviews,everything,andtheclubownerwouldbegriping
aboutit."Well,itain'tjazzunlessyou'vegotasaxophone."That'sbullshit.Writethat.
AfterWoodyShaw,IstartedtoworkwithLesterBowie'sBrassFantasy.WorkingwithLesterBowie
reallyopenedmeuptocolorsandthepossibilitiesofnuance,andnottobescaredtojustgoforwhat
youhear.Lesternotonlyaffordedmealotofopportunitiestodevelopasasoloist,butasalsoa
writer.AndsodidMcCoyTyner.IstartedworkingwithMcCoy'sbigbandfromitsinception.
Finally,DizzyGillespie.IstartedworkingwithDizzyinasmallgroupsettingandlaterinhisUnited
Nationbigband.Dizzywas,perhaps,themostprofoundofallbecausehe'sthefatherofallthe
peopleImentionedinalotofways,exceptmaybeArtBlakey.PlayingwithDizzy,therewereso
manylessonsIlearnedfromhimthatIcan'tevenstarttotellyouaboutit.

You'veworkedagreatdealintheLatinfield,aswell.
BeingMexicanAmerican,IdidplayLatinmusicontheWestCoastwiththeEscovedobrothers,and
theywerebasedonaNewYorksalsasound.WhenIcametoNewYork,Iusedtogodowntothe
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NuyoricanVillageontheLowerEastSideandplaywiththecatsdownthere,andthatwasthe
formationofJerryGonzales'FortApacheBand.I'montheband'sfirsttworecords.Infact,inLatin
musicI'veworkedeitherinthebandorasasoloistwithjustabouteverybody,fromCeliaCruztoTito
Puente,MongoSanatamaria,OscarDeLeon,ElGranCombo,JohnnyVentura.
IalsohookedupwithMannyOquendoandLibre.Librewasaprofoundinfluenceonmeintermsof
understandingthenuancesofAfroCubanmusic,theclave,andthestructure,andIreallydeveloped
myvoiceasashellsoloistplayingwiththehanddrummers.There'sarealconnectionbetweenthe
shellandthehanddrum,andwhenIplayedwithLibreithelpedmeputmywholeconceptinto
focus.

You'vealreadystartedtalkingaboutthestatusofthetromboneinjazz,sowhydon'twe
reallygetintoit?ItseemthateveryjazztrombonistI'veeverspokenwithhas
complainedthattheinstrumentistreatedlikea"secondclasscitizen,"andIcantell
thatyouagree.Whydoyouthinkthatisthecase?
Iknowwhy.Itdidn'tusedtobethatway.Whentheytellyouthetrombonewon'tsell,that's
bullshit.Notthatitwasthemostinnovativejazz,butGlennMillerandTommyDorseyweremulti
millionsellersonaparwithanythingoftheirdayintermsofunitssold.That'safact.Lookatyour
history.Theinstrumentwaspopularandeverykidontheblockwantedtoplayatrombone.Itjust
dependsonwhatthey'repumpingatthetime.
TheygotthesaxophoneonJordachecommercialsnow,soit'shot.KennyG,he'shot.Butany
instrumenttheywanttomakehot,canbehot.It'snottheinstrument,it'sthehype.
Butlet'slookatthehistory.Inthebeginningofjazz,inNewOrleans,thetwogreatestwereKing
Oliver,ofcourse,andKidOry.Sooneofthemainbandsthatformedthemusicwasledbya
tromboneplayer.
Thenthenextbiginnovationwasthebigbands.Therewerethreehornsectionsthetrumpets,the
trombonesandthesaxophones.Eachoneofthemhadstarsandfamoussoloistsintheirownright
thatwerepopularwiththepeople.TrummyYounghadthebighit,"Margie"[withJimmieLunceford's
band],alongwithTommyDorseyandDickieWellsandLawrenceBrownandTrickySam,allthose
greatsoloists.
Then,thebigchangehappened.BirdandDizcamealongandtheirmusicwassotechnically
challenging,sohard,especiallyforthetromboneforeverybody,forthatmatterthatonlyone
trombonistcouldstanduptherewithBirdandDiz,really,andthatwasJ.J.Johnson.Soonceyouhad
thewholefieldoftrombones,likeinthebigbandswhereeverybodywasequallyrevered,nowallofa
suddenonlyonecatcouldgetuptherewiththeseguysandreallymakeit.
Sothewholefocuschangedtotrumpetandsaxophone.Itwasanaturalthing,that'sthewayit
happenedanditwasvalidwhyithappened.But,man,thatwas1940.J.J.didforthetrombonewhat
CharlieParkerdidforthesaxophone.Heputitintoanewexistence.Butsincethenwe'veallfollowed
hisleadandlearnedhowtoapplythatmusictoourinstrument.
Andsoit'snotwhetherthepeoplelikethetromboneorwhethertheinstrumentcanplaythemusic.
It'sjustthatthemoldhadbeensetandnowthewholestructureofthemusicindustryinjazz,from
theclubownersandtheconcertpromoterstorecordcompanies,isalltrumpetsaxophone,trumpet
saxophone,trumpetsaxophone.Andpiano.

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YoulookattheMonkcompetitionhere'ssomethingelseIwanttotalktoyouabout,andIwantyou
toprintthisthey'reonthesecondroundalreadyforsaxophoneandthey'vehadtrumpetandpiano
twicenow.They'vehaddrums.Buttheyhaven'thadtromboneandtheyhaven'thadbass,andthey
needtoincludethem.Theseareveryimportantinstruments.Theyneedtohavevibes,too.

Andthisbiasisespeciallyobviousintherecordingfield.
Ifeelveryluckyinthat,aftercountlessalbumsasasideman,onceIstartedrecordingasaleader
I'vebeenabletosustainthatandI'vebeenrecognizedashavingmyownvoice.That'sallfinefor
me,butwhenyoulookattherecordsthatarecomingouttoday,CurtisFullerdoesn'tevenhavea
recorddeal.That'sashame.Sliderecordswhenhewantsto,AlGreyrecordswhenhewantsto.I'm
surethey'dwanttoalotmoreiftheyhadmoreopportunitytodoit.
Buteveryyoungsaxplayerthatcomesalong,whetherhewinstheMonkcompetitionornot,getsa
recorddealifhe'scompetentwiththemusic.Thesamewithpianoplayersandtrumpetplayers.Now
Iknowrightoffthetop,Icouldspoutnamesofaboutahalfadozentoeightyoungtrombone
playersthathaveuniquevoices,thathavesomethingtosay,anddeservetoberecorded.
Inthelasttenyearsnotoneyoungtromboneplayerhasbeenrecorded,andIthinkit'sashame.So
I'llputthisoutheretoanybodyfromtherecordcompanies:Iwouldbehappytoworkwiththemon
aproject.Itdoesn'thavetobeanexpensiverecording.Let'ssay,afiveorsixrecordseriesofyoung
tromboneplayersthatIwouldliketoproduce,'causeIknowsomeoftheyoungcatsoutherethat
havereallygotsomethingtosay.

Wouldyouliketonamethem?
Yes,Iwould.JamalHaynes,RonWestray,SteveDavis.WycliffeGordoncoulddoaplungeralbum.
He'samasterwiththeplunger,amaster!There'sacoupleofcatsfromNewOrleans,FreddieLonzo
andLucianBarbarin.AlsointheLatinfieldtherearesomeyoungcats,LuisBonilla,PapoVasquez.
Andthere'saguy,he'snotthatyoung,buthe'samaster,JuanPabloTorres.Thosearejustafew,
andtheydeservethesameasanysaxophoneplayer.

Asaleader,youworkwithmanydifferentkindsofgroups.Whyisthat?
IdeliberatelydiversifyandIenjoydoingit.Partofitisforeconomicreasons.Butthemostimportant
reasonismusical.SometimesIgooutasasingleandIplaywithsomebodyorIfrontabigbandor
whatever.IhavetheduothatIdowithcello,withmywife,AkuaDixon.Wedoduoconcertsand
clubappearancesandsomedaywe'lldoaduoalbum.
ThenIhaveatrio.Wehaven'trecordedyet,butthechemistryreallyworks.It'sBobStewarton
tuba,MulgrewMilleronpiano,andmyselfontromboneandshells.Everybodyhasgoodrhythm,so
wedon'tneedadrummer.Ihaveaquartet,straightahead.I'vegotaquintet,eitherwithRobin
Eubanks,thetwotrombones,orwithtenorsaxophone.AfterplayingwithWoody,I'mnottookeen
onplayingwithtrumpet.I'vealreadydonethat.ThenI'vegotthesextetwiththestrings.
Andthenforthebigbudget,wehavetheshellchoir.PlusI'vewrittenfullbigbandthingsforMcCoy
andI'vegotsomeofmyownstuff,too,thatIdoonclinics,andsomedayImaydoabigbandrecord.
Butthepointis,ifyouplayquartetallthetimeandjustplayonestyle,yougetthatdownand
becomeflawlessatit.Butyoudon'tseemtogrowasmuchaswhenyouplayinalotofdifferent
settings.Yougetstretchedmorethatwayandthatkeepsyoumoreflexible.Itmakesyour
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conceptiongrowmore.
IreallycouldfeelthisbyplayingwithDizzy.Look,heinventedbebop.Butwhenheplayedwith
StevieWonder,itfit.HeplayedwithLatinmusic,itfit.HeplayedwithAfricanmusic,itfit.Heplayed
withBrazilianmusic,itfit.HeplayedwithBasieorEllington,itfit.Hisaura,hisspiritencompassedall
ofthem.Itwasn'texclusive.No,heincludedeverything.Hebroughtallthevibrationsintohis
vibration.Andthenallthemusicbecomesone.Itwassuchabeautifulthing,andthat'ssomething
thatIaspireto.
Ifeelvery,veryluckyandblessedtobeabletomakealivingplayingthismusicthatIlovesomuch.
It'strulyAmerica'sclassicalmusicandeventhoughwehaven'tgottenfullrespectathome,Ifeelit's
coming.
Andinthemeantime,I'mstillabletogrowandbearoundpeoplethatsharethesameinterestand
inspirationandgoalsasmyself.Amusician'slikeadoctor,you'resupposedtohealpeople.Youmake
themfeelbetter.AslongasIcankeepdoingthat,I'mahappyman.Youknow,it'dbenicetomake
moneyandallthatstuff,butthatdoesn'tmakeyouhappy.

Sincethisarticlewasfirstpublished,SteveTurrehasmeldedhisshellchoirandbrassensembleinto
arichanduniqueorchestralconcept,ashissubsequentCDreleases,RhythmWithin(Antilles,1995)
andSteveTurre(Verve,1997)whichfeaturesaguestappearancebyJ.J.Johnsontestify.Although
someoftheyoungtrombonistsTurrementionedhavesincerecordedasleaders,thisdoesnot
mitigatehischargethattheinstrumentissorelyneglectedbythepowersthatrulethemusic
business.Caseinpoint:theTheloniousMonkFoundationstillhasnotsponsoredatrombone
competition.
BobBernotas,1994revised1998.Usedbypermission.Allrightsreserved.
BobBernotasistheauthorofTopBrass:InterviewsandMasterClasseswithJazz'sLeadingBrassPlayersand
ReedAllAboutIt:InterviewsandMasterClasseswithJazz'sLeadingReedPlayers,availablethroughBoptism
MusicPublishing.HehascontributedtonumerousprintandInternetpublications,andhaswrittenlinernotes
foroverfourdozenjazzCDs.Healsoisthehostoftheweeklyradioprogram,JustJazz,heardeverySunday
nightovertheInternetatwww.wnti.org.
ArticlesbyBobBernotas

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19962013Contact

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