"J.J. Johnson singlehandedly brought the trombone into the modern age, and ultimately into the twenty-first century." —Steve Turre, from the liner notes
In a career that spanned six decades, the late J.J. Johnson is considered by many to be the finest jazz trombonist of all time. An innovator on a par with titans like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Johnson established a reputation early on as not only a highly skilled player but a prolific composer as well. Despite his death in February 2001, his legacy remains an inspiration—not just to trombonists but to jazz musicians of every ilk.
Among Johnson's countless disciples is trombonist Steve Turre, who assembled five highly talented colleagues to pay tribute to the master who introduced slide trombone to the bebop idiom more than half a century ago. One 4 J: Paying Homage To J.J. Johnson is a project whose genesis dates back to the mid '90s, when Johnson first called Turre and trombonist Robin Eubanks to tour and possibly record with him in a trombone trio. Johnson retired from public performances before the project could get off the ground, but Turre and Eubanks pondered its potential for the next few years.
One 4 J is a slightly different version of the original concept. This collection of 11 tracks—mostly Johnson compositions—features Turre and Eubanks prominently, but also makes room for trombonists Joe Alessi, Steve Davis, Andre Hayward and Douglas Purviance. Assisted by pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis, Turre and his five guest trombonists come together in a sometimes rollicking, sometimes poignant, but ultimately compelling tribute to their departed mentor.
Check out what Turre himself has to say about some of more noteworthy tracks on the recording:
"Overdrive": "An uptempo piece written by J.J. in the '60s for his trombone and tenor quintet. It's a very slick tune and a challenge to play. I wrote this new arrangement for the two-trombone quintet, and it features Robin and myself."
"Wee Dot": "A blues jam on one of J.J.'s most famous tunes...The arrangement is by yours truly, and is for a four-trombone ensemble...Andre tastefully hits with soul and swing."
"Lament": "This amazing arrangement for four trombones was written by the incomparable Slide Hampton. It sounds so much bigger than just four horns, and demonstrates Slide's profound gifts in arranging, voicing and harmony."
"One 4 J": "An original by yours truly...None of us playing trombone today would be playing on the level if it weren't for the innovations that J.J. left for us to learn. He was a dream for the modern trombonist."
Turre and his gifted cohorts make the dream a reality on One 4 J, a tribute to a jazz trombone legend who inspired not only them but an entire generation of ardent and talented followers.