Clifton Anderson

Clifton Anderson

Musicians | Instrument: Trombone | Location: New York City

In Clifton's hands, you hear the trombone in a modern guise. Clifton plays with plenty of hard-bop power, but he also delivers the punch with high-register sensitivity, exhibits enormous tenderness, and his cinematic sense of suspense holds the ear.

—Marc Myers, JazzWax.com

Updated: August 28, 2023

Born: October 5, 1957

Clifton Anderson was born on October 5, 1957 in Harlem, New York City. He grew up surrounded by music. His father was a church organist /choir director, and his mother a singer and pianist. It was no surprise that Clifton exhibited an affinity for music at an early age. When he was just seven years old he got his first trombone, a gift from his uncle Sonny Rollins.

Clifton attended the prestigious Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art. In 1974 he spent one year at The State University of New York at Stony Brook studying under Simon Karasick and Dave Schechter. He continued his education at the Manhattan School of Music, and graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Music degree. At The Manhattan School, he studied under the renowned Metropolitan Opera trombonist John Clark. There he also met and befriended talented musicians like Angela Bofill and the late Kenny Kirkland.

While at Manhattan School of Music, Clifton began freelancing around New York City and made his first record date with Carlos Garnett in 1976. By his senior year at Manhattan he had established himself as one of the young in demand trombonists in New York. It was around that time that Slide Hampton formed the original World of Trombones, the group that would become the standard by which all jazz trombone choirs were measured. The group included Janice Robinson, Steve Turre, Earl McIntyre, Clifford Adams, Doug Purviance, Papo Vazquez, and Clifton along with residencies from Curtis Fuller, Britt Woodman and Benny Powell. Later additions to the prestigious trombone choir included Robin Eubanks, Clarence Banks, Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig, Bob Trowers Garfield Fobbs and Malion Walker.

Clifton has worked with a “who’s who” of diverse musical giants: from Frank Foster, McCoy Tyner, Clifford Jordan, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Merv Griffin and The Mighty Sparrow to Lester Bowie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Paul Simon, Terumasa Hino, Keith Richards, Muhal Richard Abrams, WyClef Jean, Geri Allen, T.S. Monk, Charlie Haden, Slide Hampton and Wallace Roney among others.

In 1983 Clifton got the call to join his uncles group. He worked with Sonny Rollins touring worldwide and appeared on ten of Sonny’s recordings through 2009. Clifton’s work with Sonny incorporated not only performing but also producing four releases for Sonny’s Doxy Records label: The CD’s “Sonny, Please”, “Road Shows Vol. 1”, Clifton’s own “Decade” and “Sonny Rollins in Vienne” (DVD). In addition his production work can be heard on the Grammy Nominated “Without A Song / 911 Concert” CD, while also managing Sonny’s OLEO merchandise company and DOXY record label.

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Album Review

Eric Wyatt: A Song of Hope

Read "A Song of Hope" reviewed by Jack Bowers


On A Song of Hope, his second album for Whaling City Sound, saxophonist Eric Wyatt offers more than hope; he offers assurance that contemporary jazz is alive and well in and around his home base of Brooklyn, NY. Wyatt, the godson of another rather well-known saxophonist, Sonny Rollins, performs in groups of various sizes, from quartet to octet, with vocals by Samara Joy on two numbers, “Fragile" and Wyatt's “Say Her Name." The almost-constants are pianist Donald Vega, bassist Eric ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Clifton Anderson, Reggie Quinerly & Allan Harris

Read "Clifton Anderson, Reggie Quinerly & Allan Harris" reviewed by Joe Dimino


We devote a full hour of Neon Jazz to the music and artists of 2021. A lot of music was backlogged from 2020, but it was time to take a long look at the artists who are making 2021 a special year for jazz. We start off with NYC trombonist Clifton Anderson and make our way down an impressive list of musicians including Florian Arbenz, Reggie Quinerly, Alan Harris and Henry Robinett. Enjoy the jazz, my friends. Playlist ...

9
Interview

Clifton Anderson: Knowing the Road

Read "Clifton Anderson: Knowing the Road" reviewed by Barbara Ina Frenz


New York trombonist Clifton Anderson has mastered his instrument from the 1970s on in jazz programs of his home town outside the conservatory (which he also attended), that were initiated by leading spirits of the music such as Barry Harris, Sam Rivers, and Reggie Workman; these informal, professional jazz circles gave him information, insights and inspiration that the academic world couldn't provide in those days. Equally important for his development as a trombonist was his constant collaboration with musical giants ...

630
Interview

Clifton Anderson: Leading The Way

Read "Clifton Anderson: Leading The Way" reviewed by Mikayla Gilbreath


Not since the heyday of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey has the trombone enjoyed widespread acceptance as a band leader's instrument. With only a few exceptions, the last half century has seen trombonists slide from favor as leaders and become more commonly viewed as sidemen. Even genuinely notable artists like J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino, Bill Watrous and Slide Hampton never really gained the fame and notoriety afforded their predecessors of the 1930s and '40s. Some believe the trombone's ...

1,245
Interview

Clifton Anderson: Legacy

Read "Clifton Anderson: Legacy" reviewed by Maxwell Chandler


Clifton Anderson has been on a lifelong journey of artistic evolution. From his start as a child surrounded by a musical family, to formal education mixed with the practical experience of live gigs, Clifton's odyssey is ever-unfolding. Whether playing as a long-standing member of his uncle Sonny Rollins' band, helping to run the Doxy label or leading sessions with his own band, Clifton's life is always happily connected to music.

Chapter Index Early Years And Inspirations Tennis Versus ...

234
Album Review

Clifton Anderson: Decade

Read "Decade" reviewed by Ken Dryden


Clifton Anderson has spent almost a quarter-century playing trombone in Sonny Rollins' band, rarely leading his own groups. Decade is Anderson's second release as a leader, utilizing a variety of musicians in different combinations (several of whom are Rollins alumni or sidemen): pianists Larry Willis and Stephen Scott, bassists Bob Cranshaw and Christian McBride, drummers Al Foster and Steve Jordan, saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Eric Wyatt, plus percussionist Kimati Dinizulu. On his own, Anderson has a better chance to showcase ...

222
Album Review

Clifton Anderson: Decade

Read "Decade" reviewed by Paolo Arduini


Best-known for playing and producing with his famous uncle Sonny Rollins (who gave him his first trombone when he was only seven), trombonist Clifton Anderson is back with Decade, his second album as a leader.

A little more than a decade has, in fact, passed since his first effort. All good things to those who wait, as this new collection of standards and originals is a clear improvement over Landmarks (Milestone, 1996).

The lineup features other ...

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"In Clifton's hands, you hear the trombone in a modern guise. Clifton plays with plenty of hard-bop power, but he also delivers the punch with high-register sensitivity, exhibits enormous tenderness, and his cinematic sense of suspense holds the ear. What I love most about Clifton's playing here is his tone." —Marc Myers - JazzWax.com

"Easily among the top mainstream trombonists in Jazz today ... full- bodied, post-bop trombone sound and considerable compositional skills .... finely executed heartfelt jazz." - Joel Roberts - New York City Jazz Record

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Big Daddy

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Been Down This Road Before

From: Been Down This Road Before
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