An advocate of change, famed trombonist Steve Turre continually seeks to reinvent himself and his music. “You have to keep developing,” he says. “Giving people something fresh is key in today's world. Mixing it up keeps people interested and it keeps you loving what you're doing.”
This philosophy is applied to his inimitable musical styles, whether it's the scintillating sounds of his trombone, a set of sea shells or his distinctive original compositions.
After years of performing with legendary jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, Woody Shaw, and with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Turre has established himself as a prominent musical leader and as a collaborator with a passionate and striking trombone sound. For the past 25 years, television viewers have seen and heard the artist perform with the renowned Saturday Night Live Band, a gig that gives Turre the opportunity to share his unique sound to millions of viewers each week. Known for his diverse, challenging, and passionate performances, Turre's upcoming album will be released by High Note in Spring 2008 and will feature quartets, quintets and sextets with some of the Jazz world's most esteemed players including Mulgrew Miller, Peter Washington, Igancio Berroa, Kenny Garnet and Shawn Jones.
Born on September 12th, 1948, in Omaha, Nebraska, Turre was raised in San Francisco by Mexican-American parents. Uninspired by his first instrument, the violin, he switched to trombone at age 10 and later studied the instrument at the University of North Texas. While attending Sacramento State University, he joined the Escovedo Brothers salsa band, which began his long association with Latin music. He went on to perform with Ray Charles, Woody Shaw, Carlos Santana and one of his chief musical mentors Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who first introduced Turre to the use of seashells as a musical instrument. Turre began experimenting with the medium in the early 1970s and has since mastered the craft of fashioning them into musical instruments; he even trained many of his brass colleagues to play them.
As a teacher, Turre always reminds his students of the importance of practicing, balance and most importantly knowing and using the history of Jazz. Turre has been teaching at the Manhattan School of Music since 1988. “When you study the history of Jazz, it's essential not to just know the names and dates but also the feeling, the sound and the emotion behind the history.”
Turre's relationship with Yamaha spans more than 25 years. Early in his career, as a member of Art Blakely's Jazz Messengers, he was given the opportunity to play a Yamaha trombone. After trying out the new instrument – an enhanced model featuring a silver bell and gold plating – he enjoyed the feel and sound so much that he asked Yamaha to make one for him. Today, he plays a specially designed Yamaha Xeno Series trombone featuring a custom made sterling silver mouthpiece. “I've been playing Yamaha as I've developed as an artist,” says Turre. “I really enjoy the sound and I'm proud to play it.”