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Absolute Trombone: A Review
Tom Ervin


Absolute TromboneJust over 40 years ago I bought my first jazz trombone recordings, and one of them was the monumental J&K+6. As a high school player I listened to the album several hundred times in one summer. Doing that certainly influences the listener.

There have been many fine jazz trombone ensemble recordings. It is important to note they often do not remain available forever, and reissues can be a long time coming. Well, there's another one we should all have; get it now, or ask Santa Claus for it!

Michael Davis just produced Absolute Trombone this Spring (1997). The personnel listed below are all NYC champion trombonists performing in very tight ensembles with terrific rhythm sections (in fact, half the tracks are without rhythm players, bones alone).

Davis is an extraordinary player and a solid writer. In both respects he has pursued his own distinct voice for several years. He is not just another bebopper, nor is he far outside. All tracks but one are Davis originals. Both the writing and the playing are brilliant and energetic, and Davis was also extremely careful in the rehearsal and recording sessions. The togetherness is highly polished and clean as can be.

I particularly love the writing in the inner voices. The only thing I might change is the mixing so one could hear stronger lead, but that would indeed cover some of the inner material.

You will love hearing the solos by Urbie Green, Bill Watrous, Conrad Herwig and David Taylor, and simply marvelous bass trombone work throughout all tracks. Most of, if not all, the arrangements are available for purchase (along with the recording) at Hip-Bone Music's Web site.

Absolute Trombone is an exciting event and a meticulously engineered milestone.


Tom Ervin is Professor of Music at the University of Arizona, where he has been on the faculty for 29 years, during which time he has also been Principal Trombonist for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He is internationally recognized as a premiere trombonist in both the classical and jazz arenas and is a past president of the International Trombone Association.

Articles by Tom Ervin Other Review Articles