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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Smoke Sessions SSR 1502



1. Bu

2. Lover Man

3. Funky Thing

4. Trayvon’s Blues

5. It’s Too Late Now

6. With a Song in My Heart

7. ‘Swonderful,

8. Peace

9. Nangadef

10. Spiritman-All Blues

Steve Turre – Trombone, shells

Bruce Williams – Alto sax, soprano sax

Xavier Davis – Piano

Gerald Cannon – Bass

Willie Jones III – Drums

Chembo Corniel – Congas (track 9)

Steve Turre’s previous CD The Bones of Art had a title which indicated that Steve was paying tribute to Art Blakey, in whose Jazz Messengers Turre had played earlier. The first track of this new album also refers to Blakey in its title, as “Bu” was a nickname for Art. Bu is the sort of high-powered tune that Blakey would have enjoyed. Steve Turre’s solo demonstrates his tone: smooth and velvety, with the occasional burr and a sporadic tendency to sound like a French horn. Lover Man is a loping mid-tempo piece in which Turre and bassist Gerald Cannon swap fours to good effect.

Steve Turre composed five of the tunes on this album, including the well-named Funky Thing. Trayvon’s Blues is another of Steve’s tunes: a response to the tragic shooting in 2012 of a young man in Florida. It starts sombrely but intensifies to express outrage before falling back into mourning.

It’s Too Late Now is the first ballad on the album, and it allows space for sensitive solos from Bruce Williams (on alto sax) and Xavier Davis. Steve Turre’s muted trombone makes the most of wah-wah noises. The next two tunes are also jazz standards. With a Song in My Heart is taken at an unusually fast tempo, and Willie Jones III gets the chance to display his talents in an extended drum solo. ‘Swonderful bounces along at an easy, swinging pace, although Steve seems hazy about the last note of the tune’s first eight. Horace Silver’s Peace has virtually become a jazz standard and it is the second ballad on this CD, delivered with feeling from the whole ensemble.

Steve Turre apparently wrote Nagadef for a Senegalese percussionist, and the percussion is supplied here by conga drummer Chembo Corniel. The album ends with the title-track, which fuses into All Blues to make an intriguing performance, especially when Turre blows through a conch shell over the strings of a piano while the sustain pedal is depressed, creating a reverberating, other-worldly sound.

The only fault I can find with this album is Steve Turre’s tendency to allow his intonation to lapse. Having just reviewed an album by George Chisholm, one of Britain’s finest trombonists who seldom committed intonational faults, I am rather surprised to hear them from one of the USA’s most prominent trombonists. However, Steve’s incandescent solos and his colleagues’ first-class playing makes this a very stimulating album.

Tony Augarde

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