The Jay & Kai Trombone Octet

Jay and Kai + 6: The Jay and Kai Trombone Octet

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It was around the years when this recording was made that trombone groups, whether they be choirs, quartets, septets, or some other configuration, were in vogue. Kai Winding recorded several during the 1950s with his own group and with his oftentimes playing partner, J.J. Johnson. This album is the product of one of those occasions. Recorded over a three-day period in 1956 and originally issued on a Columbia LP, Johnson and Winding are joined by fellow slide instrumentalists Bob Alexander, Eddie Bert, Urbie Green, Jimmy Cleveland, Tom Mitchell, and Bart Varsalona, the latter two on bass trombone, plus an all-star rhythm section of Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, and Osie Johnson. Also somewhat of an item during this period was the trombonium, an upright valve trombone resembling a euphonium. Johnson and Winding use this instrument on some of the cuts, including "A Night in Tunisia" and "Piece for Two Tromboniums." The playing here is simply terrific, as one would expect from this eminent cast of trombonists. The only problem is that after a while, one begins to yearn for some other horns, especially the sax, to get a change in the harmonics and voicings. Nonetheless, the playing, both solo and in ensemble, is brilliant and is a prime example of how the trombone had evolved from essentially a tailgate to an instrument that could execute fast-moving bop tunes and use a controlled vibrato and enveloping tone on slower numbers. There's plenty to choose from both categories on this session. The players on this album were in the vanguard of that metamorphosis. This LP richly deserved to be reissued on CD.

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