Steve Turre Stretches Out On Spur Of The Moment

Trombonist explores several styles with Ray Charles, Chucho Valdés, others on new CD.

Trombonist Steve Turre is

finally getting to do what he says his old record label,

Verve, wouldn't let him do: freely express his wide-ranging

musical personality.

"I wanted this to be my coming-out party," said Turre of his

new album, In the Spur of the Moment, which pairs him

with three rhythm sections playing three styles.

It's Turre's first recording for the Telarc label, with which

he signed last year, following several years with


"I finally got to what Verve [Records] wouldn't let me do,"

he said. "They wanted recordings that featured me on [conch]

shells. I invented the shells, but first and foremost, I'm a

trombonist. This quartet puts me front and center."

The recording explores 10 compositions, ranging from

COLOR="#003163">Chucho Valdés' "Claudia

(with string quartet)" and Erroll

Garner's "Misty" to five Turre originals,

including "Sueños de la Habana" (


am">RealAudio excerpt).

The disc also revisits the music of

COLOR="#003163">Duke Ellington, including a medley

of tunes that includes "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" and

"Five O'Clock Drag."

The uniqueness of In the Spur of the Moment lies not

so much in the often familiar musical landscapes it explores

— in particular, the blues-infused opening tracks —

but rather in the sophistication and mastery of the first-rate musicians Turre brought into the project.

In the Spur of the Moment is divided into three

sections: the "Blues in Jazz," "Modern and Modal," and "Afro-Cuban Sounds." Each section features a different rhythm


The "Blues in Jazz" spotlights Turre on trombone and shells,

bassist Peter Washington,

drummer Peter Turre and

pianist Ray Charles, who

provides his soulful, gospel inflections on "Ray's Collard

Greens" (


">RealAudio excerpt) and "Duke Ray's."

"Blues is the roots of jazz," Turre said. "If you can't play

the blues, you can't play jazz."

On "Misty," Charles adds small brushstrokes of color under

Turre's precisely crafted solo.

"Ray [Charles] is a complete professional," said Turre while

chuckling with admiration. "Ray has always been about taking

care of business. He came into the studio, and within three

hours we had recorded the music."

Turre and Charles' association dates back to 1972, when

Charles hired the San Francisco Bay Area native for a tour of


"Ray and Rahsaan Roland

Kirk really opened my eyes to the importance of

learning the history of the music," he said. "They showed me

how much I needed to understand the language of the past in

order to develop as complete musician."

After leaving Charles, he joined Art

Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

"I was thrilled and scared to death to be playing with Art,"

he recalled. "Back then, fusion and free jazz were in, and

musicians asked me why I was playing bebop. I told them,

'Because it's kicking my butt and I want to learn how to play

it.' "

After Blakey came the Thad

Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra,

COLOR="#003163">Woody Shaw,

COLOR="#003163">Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine,

Archie Shepp,

COLOR="#003163">Lester Bowie,

COLOR="#003163">Tito Puente,

COLOR="#003163">Cedar Walton, the

COLOR="#003163">Mingus Big Band and a host of

other groups, including bands he led.

And it's from those experiences that the album's "Modern and

Modal" segment draws its inspiration.

The rhythm section comprises pianist

COLOR="#003163">Stephen Scott, bassist

COLOR="#003163">Buster Williams and drummer

Jack DeJohnette, and the

tracks include the album's title composition (


ment.ram">RealAudio excerpt), written by Scott.

The album's final section focuses on Afro-Cuban sounds and

features pianist Valdés, bassist

COLOR="#003163">Andy Gonzalez, drummer

COLOR="#003163">Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and

the Quartette Indigo

string quartet.

"This recording is a reflection of my different musical

personalities," Turre said. "I've always enjoyed playing

different styles; it stretches me and makes me grow."