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Steve Turre: Keep Searchin'

Dan McClenaghan By

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Few jazz artists today are as adept as Steve Turre in straddling the "one foot in the future, one foot in the past" endeavor. On his past two CD releases, the long-time Saturday Night Show trombonist tipped his hat to a couple of past masters: to fellow trombonist J.J. Johnson with One4J: Paying Homage to J.J. Johnson (Telarc, '03) and to Rahsaan Roland Kirk with The Spirits up Above (High Note, '05).

On Keep Searchin' Turre pays tribute to his own musical/life philosophy on a set of forward-looking original (mostly) compositions, performed with a group of stellar musicians.

The disc opens with Turre's "Sanyas," which was his first recorded original compostion, from Woody Shaw's Moontrane (Muse, '74). Turre blows in here on the conch shell—a sound so far in the past that's it's come back around to the future—in front of pianist Xavier Davis' pattering raindrops, yielding a warmly haunting sound that gives way to some high octane open horn blowing, with Akua Dixon weaving a scratchy fabric behind him on baritone violin. The group chemistry is wonderful. Dixon takes a solo that gives way to Stefon Harris, who shines up the sound on the vibes, leading into Xavier Dixon's dark turn on piano.

The Stephon Harris tune "Faded Beauty" opens with Turre talking on a pixie mute plunger, a smooth wah-wah flow that gives way to Davis' slightly astringent (at least at the beginning) piano solo in front of a flexible rhythm. Turre leans toward the past with a reverent take on the Rodgers and Hart standard "My Funny Valentine," where Davis sparkles behind the horn's deep tone. The band puts some bounce into Grachan Moncur's "Thandiwa" and turns up the heat on Curtis Fuller's "Time Off," as Turre pays his respects to a couple of unerrated trombone masters.

Turre mixes up the sound with different mutes throughout, and adds, again, the hollow, peacefully haunting timbre of the conch shell on the closing title track.

An excellent set by an ever-searching artist.

Track Listing: Sanyas; Faded Beauty; Thandiwa; Reconciliation; Time Off; My Funny Valentine; Easy Now; Steppin

Personnel: Steve Turre: trombone, shells; Stefon Harris: vibes; Akua Dixon: baritone violin; Xavier Davis: piano; Dion Parson: drums; Gerald Cannon or Peter Washington: bass.

Title: Keep Searchin' | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: HighNote Records

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