So, who was next? Wycliffe Gordon, whose brawny entrance produced long brassy lines.
Next, Fred Wesley played cool-headed and brought out the tune's blues and harmonies.
Then Steve Turre's mix of staccato blasts! and swift chaining phrases encouraged a fleet and articulate solo from the very involved pianist, Luke O'Reilly.
All the stuff of good jazz was here tonight great improvised solos, trading 4's, harmonized themes, the musicians pushing their instruments.
Also, all four members of the United Trombone Summit took turns in introducing the tunes and thanking the rhythm section, so there was a geniality and a sense of professionalism on the stage.
But above all, the spirit of healthy competition filled the air. Each time a trombonist stepped up to the mic, he wanted to play something different.
On Joe Henderson's bossa tune, "Recordame", I observed Steve Turre catching pianist O'Reilly's attention and pointing, with a child-like smile, to the Harmon mute stuck in his trombone. Secret weapon. Wycliffe Gordon's head snapped up when Turre soloed. He looked over at Turre and shook his head in admiration. Slide and Fred Wesley smiled from stage left.
"Headhunters" the popular Herbie Hancock tune was real throwdown stuff. There was that brassy affirmation in the 2-note response. Nice. There was the piano trio's smart riffing between Wycliffe's staccato and swoops and Slide's chasing it down, to end in a wavering trill. But out of all this, Steve Turre's solo was the standout for me. When he slowly inched back his slide on a note, he pulled us right into his abrupt, and irresistable, jumpy beat. There were cheers as well for Howard Franklin on drums. His stick work was swift and meticulous. He was always listening.
A medley of four classic ballads slowed down the pace. Each trombonist took a chorus. Fred Wesley was all tasteful on "My Romance". On "I Can't Get Started With You", Wycliffe Gordon was firmly expressive on plunger mute. Slide Hampton soloed in flowing tones in "My Funny Valentine", and "In A Sentimental Mood", Steve Turre talked raspy and sensual.