June 2007

United Trombone Summit | Roy Hargrove Quintetdouble bill
at the Toronto Jazz Festival
June 28, 2007Toronto Star StageNathan Phillips SquareToronto
It Was A Traditional Modern Jazz Concert
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert
"Speak Low" kicked off the evening. Slide Hampton took the first solo. His trombone was fleet and mellifluous and sounded like a French horn.

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.

Steve Turre

Fred Wesley

To end their segment of the concert, the four trombonists and trio played a jazzman's standard tune to improvise on, Ray Noble's "Cherokee". The fast/slow/fast form of the tune launched Slide into a series of creative trombone mumbles; Turre was all galloping and tailgating; Fred Wesley played it hard-toned and clear; and Wycliffe Gordon, in a stop chorus moment, killed us with a series of rapid, detached, high trumpet range notes.

The Roy Hargrove Quintet opened up the second half of the concert with a piece that began like a tune-up and quickly grew into a group drone.

The musical space was soon filled with the smooth-stroking stick work of drummer Montez E. Coleman and then Hargrove emerged on trumpet, soloing fast, high, and speech-like. When he finished, he wiggled at the hips and started circling and prowling the stage, stopping at times to listen to what the piano or the alto might be saying. He'd also smile and strike poses and gaze at the audience from the edge of the stage. Hargrove's aim is to have a good time when he plays.

Justin Robinson was Hargrove's musical sparring partner. Robinson is an especially lyrical and logical alto player, and no matter how fast and furious things got, he stayed focused on the form and emotion of the tune. He had the air of a real point man.

And he absolutely shone on "Style", a medium slow piece that took flight. Robinson stormed away in climbing, linked phrases; Hargrove's Harmon-muted trumpet spoke back in deliberately placed Swing Era phrases; then drums with brushes and a voluble bass took it on out.

Good things must also be said about the light, dancing drums of Montez E. Coleman. It was a distinct pleasure to watch him create such a big yet delicate sound. He caught the audience's attention right from the start.

But, finally, what's a Roy Hargrove concert without a ballad? Happily, he didn't disappoint with his mellow fluegelhorn reading of "My Foolish Heart"; he stayed close to the melody and underplayed the sentimentality. It was simple and mature ballad playing.

On this evening, the United Trombone Summit conducted their set like an old-time cutting contest where everyone tried to outdo each other in their solos.

That same spirit burned in the seeking horns of Roy Hargrove and Justin Robinson — but these guys were fun, too.

Roy Hargrove
Just ask the twelve or so fans who — after Hargrove's brilliant, blistering trumpet cadenza — got up dancing to the funky encore piece.

They danced with great enthusiasm, beat, and varying degrees of boogey.

United Trombone Summit
Wycliffe Gordon — trombone
Locksley (Slide) Hampton — trombone
Steve Turre — trombone
Fred Wesley — trombone
Luke O'Reilly — keyboards
Corcoran Holt — bass
Howard Franklin — drums

Roy Hargrove Quintet
Roy Hargrove — trumpet
Justin Robinson — alto sax
Gerald Clayton — piano
Danton L. Boller — bass
Montez E. Coleman — drums

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007