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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Rainbow People

HighNote HCD 7161



1. Rainbow People
2. Forward Vision
3. Brother Ray
4. Groove Blues
5. Midnight In Madrid
6. Cleopatra's Needle
7. Search For Peace
8. Segment
9. Para el Comandante
Steve Turre - Trombone, shells
Kenny Garrett - Alto sax (tracks 1, 4, 8, 9)
Sean Jones - Trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 2, 5, 9)
Mulgrew Miller - Piano, keyboards
Peter Washington - Bass
Ignacio Berroa - Drums
Pedro Martinez - Percussion (track 9)

Bebop caused problems for some trombonists in the 1940s, bdecause they found the fast-paced new music difficult to get around on the trombone. Players like J. J. Johnson and Kay Winding often sounded rather awkward to me: trying to play speedily on an instrument that appeared reluctant to do anything quickly.

Modern trombonists like Steve Turre and Wycliffe Gordon seem to have overcome these difficulties: being capable of playing swiftly when required but maintaining the classic traditions of trombone playing that go back to such greats as Jack Teagarden and Lawrence Brown. On this album, Steve Turre seems capable of playing anything - as the opening title-track exhibits, mixing fast runs with passages that have more room to breathe. He is joined in the front line for this tune by the ever-expressive altoist Kenny Garrett.

The CD displays Turre's capabilities as a composer as well as a trombonist, since Steve wrote six of the nine tracks - the first five and the last of all. On Forward Vision, Steve is joined by up-and-coming trumpeter Sean Jones, and they certainly blend well together. But perhaps the outstanding soloist here is pianist Mulgrew Miller, whose playing is impeccably sensitive throughout the album. Note his filigree decorations behind other people's solos.

Brother Ray evokes the funky soul of Ray Charles: a slow-burning blues which includes a fine (and audible) bass solo from Peter Washington. Turre plays open trombone as well as with a plunger mute and, as Steve observes in his sleeve-notes, Mulgrew Miller "takes us to church on this" with a convincing gospel feel. Groove Blues is even funkier.

Midnight in Madrid has a distinct Spanish tinge, although the combination of trombone and trumpet reminds me of a mariachi band. Cleopatra's Needle refers to a jazz club in Manhattan. This and the following ballad Search for Peace (a McCoy Tyner composition) let us enjoy Steve Turre backed simply by the rhythm section. Mulgrew Miller switches to electric keyboards for the former tune and he is just as lyrical on them as he is on the acoustic piano.

The mood changes completely with Segment, a Charlie Parker tune which shows how Steve can cope with the demands of bebop. The album ends with Para el Comandante, a Latin-American piece which is dedicated to Steve's late friend and teacher Mario Rivera. Sean Jones's flugelhorn is particularly impressive here.

As you may gather from these notes on the various tracks, the music on this album is varied as well as adventurous. If you want to start discovering Steve Turre, this is an excellent place to start. And if you already know about him, this CD is worth getting as one of his finest works.

Tony Augarde

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