Trombonist Steve Turre is, next to Leon Pendarvis, one of the longest-serving members of Saturday Night Live’s current house band lineup, having served with the band since 1985. It is just one of his claims to fame, though. He has also released more than 20 records as a band leader himself since the release of his 1987 album, Viewpoint, which was released through Stash Records. He released his latest album as a band leader Sept. 16 in the form of Generations through Smoke Sessions Records. The 10-song record, which runs an hour and 10-minutes, is such an enjoyable presentation what with its varied musical arrangements. That diversity in the record’s musical content will be addressed shortly. The background on the album and its songs provided in the record’s packaging adds its own share of appeal to the record. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered they make Generations yet another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Generations, the latest album from Steve Turre, is an enjoyable new offering from the veteran trombonist that will appeal widely among jazz audiences. The record’s appeal comes in large part through its musical content. From beginning to end of the hour-plus album, the record’s musical content is quite diverse. Early in the album’s run, audiences get some big band ballroom vibes through the gentle, flowing, ‘Dinner With Duke.’ The richness of Turre’s trombone leads the way here while drummer Orion Turre’s gentle work with the brushes on the snare pairs with Isaiah J. Thompson to create such a rich musical picture. Audiences can see the lights on the floor, the big band on the side, performing the song as couples slow dance on the fully waxed floor that reflects the light from above.
The swinging blues approach of ‘Blue Smoke,’ which immediately follows takes audiences in a completely different direction, picking up the album’s energy. It is such a fun, infectious composition that is led, once again, by Turre on trombone.
As the album progresses, Turre and company keep the changes coming, turning to the reggae realm in ‘Don D.’ The familiar staccato style work on the guitar and the use of the horns is a toss to so much reggae. It is sure to appeal to so many audiences in its own right while continuing to show the diversity in the album’s musical content.
Even later in the album’s run, listeners get a touch of some Afro-Latin sound and style in ‘Good People.’ The use of the drums and the horns will take audiences to the streets of Havana on those warm summer nights from the 1960s. It is its own infectious work whose instrumentation puts the talents of the whole group on full display here. It is just one more example of the diversity exhibited throughout Generations. When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s compositions, the whole shows even more clearly, the diversity in the album’s primary content. The result is that said content forms a solid foundation for the album.
The foundation formed through the album’s musical content is strengthened even more through the information provided through the album. Penned by A. Scott Galloway, the information in question is an in-depth examination of the songs’ backgrounds and how the album came about. Galloway writes in the liner notes that Turre’s original intent was to craft this record in 2020, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its creation. It was not until February of this year that Turre and a group of musicians finally managed to record the album in a single day. If that really is the case, then the rush of getting things done in a single day still resulted in a fully enjoyable presentation.
In regards to the background on the songs, listeners will be interested to learn that ‘Dinner With Duke,’ for instance, was in fact named and created in tribute of sorts to legendary jazz front man Duke Ellington. Galloway writes here that Ellington played a big role in Turre’s development and that of Galloway. Galloway even notes Turre’s use of a plunger on the trombone opposite Wallace Roney, Jr.’s work on the trumpet makes for a certain sort of musical conversation. Audiences really can hear that conversation, too. It makes for even more interest here. What’s more, understanding the influence that Ellington had on Galloway, Turre, and his fellow musicians makes for even more appreciation of the song. That is because audiences can really hear that Ellington influence throughout the song.
Another interesting note that Galloway makes in the liner notes is that of ‘Pharaoh’s Dance. The name itself conjures thoughts of ancient Egypt, but that could not be farther from the truth. As Galloway points out, the song is a tribute of sorts to the influence of famed saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders. It is also an homage to equally respected and revered pianist McCoy Tyner. Audiences who are familiar with each musician’s work will really hear clearly, their influence. What’s more, it shows that importance of having background information for any instrumental music. Song titles can clearly be misleading, and having that background really offers full understanding and appreciation for said work.
Galloway’s discussion on ‘Resistance’ is another interesting way in which the liner notes prove their importance to the album’s presentation. He cites Turre as saying that the song is a statement piece. “I wrote ‘Resistance’ around the time of the 2016 election,” he cites Turre as saying. “I’m tired of the negativity, the division, and the lack of compassion…the greed and the selfishness, and the willful ignorance of facts, truth and science. I don’t resist by hating. I resist by putting positive energy out there.” Once more, audiences get more proof of the importance of liner notes here. Understanding Turre’s comments, the juxtaposition of the tension early in the song against the more positive vibes that are presented through the rest of the song really does well to illustrate his comments. When this information, the other information noted and the rest of the liner notes, the whole shows without question, the importance of the liner notes featured in this album.
The liner notes that accompany the album’s primary content do plenty to strengthen the album’s presentation. They are still not all that the album has going for it. The record’s production rounds out the album’s most important elements. From one song to the next, the production brings out the best of each ensemble’s work. The horns and percussion each compliment each other so well, as do the bass lines along with everything else. The piano line adds its own welcome touch to given songs, too. Each musician gets a moment in the spotlight in each song and throughout by connection. The result is that the production creates such a positive general effect throughout the album, ensuring even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment. When this aspect is considered along with the album’s primary and secondary content, the whole makes Generations a fully enjoyable new offering from Steve Turre and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Generations, the new album from Steve Turre, is a successful new offering from the veteran musician. The record succeeds for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the record’s primary content. The musical arrangements that make up the album’s body are diverse and so fun from one to the next. The background on the songs (and the album’s creation) make for even more engagement and entertainment. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and puts the finishing touch to the presentation. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Generations is available now through Smoke Sessions Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Steve Turre’s latest news at:
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