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Monday, November 14, 2005

To The Steve Turre Quintet yesterday at Bruce Eaton's Microsoft Art of Jazz program. A was out of town, so LCA accompanied me, and I have to admit I was hoping that a band with both trombone and tenor sax might get her thinking about picking up a horn again. No such luck, but we both got a charge out of the show. Any time you have two horns going you have a good basis for believing that you will see something good. Billy Harper was exceptional, and the two blended beautifully. Harper was a nice surprise, actually-- I'd heard of him, but, again, was not sure what to expect. He is an elegant player, who took off on extended solos a couple of times and surprised even Turre, I think.

You have to love Turre's background: he started out with Ray Charles, then moved on to play with Woody Shaw in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He's played with a bunch of other people, but the other notable influence was Rahsaan Roland Kirk. You can hear all of it informing his playing-- his trombone style is notably crisp, and although it is not fast for the sake of speed alone, he can certainly play fast.

Turre is noted for playing seashells, which had me concerned. I am wary of novelty instrumentation, and shells sounded like it might be kinda New Age. He only played one number featuring the shells, the finale, and that was where the Kirk influence came shining through-- like Kirk it was no gimmick, it was a means to a specific sound. He played a range of them (finishing up by playing two at once) and achieved sounds that ranged from "sort of like a flute" to "sort of like a car horn". He made it swing, which is what counts.

A solid band-- the two veterans on horns, and a rhythm section that was younger but knew the moves: pianist Shedrick Mitchell, bassist Gerald Cannon, and drummer Dion Parsons were all guys worth seeing.

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