With his masterful trombone blowing and unprecedented work with conch shells, Steve Turre is a one-of-a-kind jazzman. Turre’s new release In the Spur of the Moment
is an intimate showcase for the artist’s earthy trombone playing in three different formats. Turre also blows enough shells here to keep things exotic.
The album is divided into three sections with three different quartets. "The Blues in Jazz" segment features four tracks with Turre’s former employer Ray Charles on piano (minus vocals). Next up is the "Modern and Modal" with longtime Turre collaborator Stephen Scott tickling the ivories while a couple of jazz luminaries (bassist Buster Williams and drummer Jack DeJohnette) hold up the bottom end with aplomb. Lastly, "Afro-Cuban Sounds" has Turre teamed with the great Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes on three numbers.
Each section has a spontaneous, live-in-the -studio feel. While the segments with Charles and Scott are plenty animated, the Turre-Valdes partnership is extraordinary.
You have to go back to Ray Charles' 1957 session Soul Brothers
with Milt Jackson to find the soul legend playing the piano with as much improvisational gusto as he displays here. Of the four tunes featuring Charles, my favorite is the bluesy version of "Misty," which includes a wonderfully growly performance by Turre on muted trombone. Of the three Scott tracks, the highlight is a two-song Ellington medley that includes "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" and the obscure but charming piece "Five O’Clock Drag."
Turre and Valdes are electrifying together, particularly on "Descarga Ahora (Unload Cargo)," an incendiary Cuban dance number with buoyant instrumental exchanges and a terrific solo by bassist Andy Gonzalez. In addition, percussionist/drummer nonpareil Horacia "El Negro" Hernandez sounds like a three-piece percussion section on "Descarga Ahora." With his harmonic variations and astounding flourishes, Valdes is all over the black-and-whites on this tune, and also on "Sueno de la Habana." In between, Valdes’ pretty melody "Claudia" showcases the ethereal strings of Quartette Indigo.
Turre shows incredible versatility in each format, coaxing a variety of tones and timbres from his ‘bone. As usual, his resonant shell playing adds a pristine quality to the proceedings.
All told, this is another fine release from a remarkable musician.