No wonder Steve Turre merely used his name as the title of this tour de force, for it is a supremely ambitious, self-defining project that covers an enormous amount of ground and means on one small disc. With his trombone and signature conch shells as a base, Turre expands his reach to embrace the Western Hemisphere -- particularly Cuba and Brazil -- arranging, composing, inviting stellar guests to chip in, and ending up with a beautiful, swinging record that can't be mistaken for anyone else's. One gets a powerful dose of Turre's unique sound world on the fascinating opening track, "In a Sentimental Mood," done bossa nova style with a conch shell solo that sounds like late-period Dizzy Gillespie and a smoky Cassandra Wilson vocal. There are ample layers of Turre's multi-tracked conch shell harmonies, the sweetest ensemble sound this side of Lombardo and one that is used as a genuinely musical ingredient, not a gimmick. Turre is secure enough to feature the majestic sound of J.J. Johnson, who plays magnificently on the lengthy tone poem "The Emperor" -- whose title undoubtedly refers to the elder trombone giant -- and on "Steve's Blues." Afro-Cuban music plays a major role here, as Mongo Santamaria's veteran chartmeister Marty Sheller arranges "Ayer Lo Vi Llorar" for the 81-year old Queen of Boleros, Graciela Perez -- and then Mongo himself duels with the madly comping McCoy Tyner on, of course, "Mongo 'n' McCoy." The booklet notes (by Turre himself) are an exhaustive play-by-play of what was clearly an exhausting project, yet the final product has much of the exuberance of a spontaneous jam session.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell