Duke’s Bones and More

The Jazz.com Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians has been updated with six new trombone profiles.  Slowly but surely, we’re catching up with the rest of the instruments represented there …

More on the six new entries after the jump:

Kid Ory, the man who started it all (and who dubbed Joe Oliver “King”)

Benny Morton, one of the most consistently successful and underrated players of his generation

J.C Higginbotham, the bombastic, swinging sideman of Red Allen for many years

and the three famous men who made up Duke Ellington’s trombone section from 1932-1944:

Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, plunger soloist extraordinaire

Juan Tizol, composer of “Caravan” and rock-solid valve trombonist

Lawrence Brown, the virtuosic lead player and occasionally grumpy soloist.

According to his son Mercer Ellington, Duke’s trombone trio was his favorite section to write for.  Indeed, Duke’s decision to hire Lawrence Brown as a third trombonist was a very unconventional choice, giving him compositional resources unavailable to other big bands at the time.  Duke’s three trombonists, each bringing a different voice and purpose, didn’t disappoint.  These three men’s contribution to the Ellington sound in the 1930s and 1940s is rarely considered as important as the work of, say, Jimmy Blanton, Ben Webster or Harry Carney.  Not to knock on any of those guys, but give the ‘bones some love, too!

One man has already done this: Kurt Dietrich‘s book Duke’s ‘Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists was an indispensible resource for the Brown, Tizol and Nanton profiles.  Props to him for his thoughtful research and excellent transcriptions.

If you check out any of the profiles and are presented with further questions or curiosities about these men’s careers, please give me a shout in the comments below.

About Alex Rodriguez

Jazz Writing, Engaged Buddhism, Improvised Music
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