Erich Kleinschuster

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The name of Erich Kleinschuster comes up, slowly and carefully to make sure it fits through any required openings, in the context of musicians whose surnames in some way resemble their instruments, in…
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The name of Erich Kleinschuster comes up, slowly and carefully to make sure it fits through any required openings, in the context of musicians whose surnames in some way resemble their instruments, in this case the severely elongated trombone. The actual translation of the name Kleinschuster basically ties the idea of something unwieldily long into knots, as it means a tiny shoemaker, possibly even elfin. Expanding back to giant size, muscleman actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger can be referenced as a Kleinschuster homeboy. They both hail from Graz, Austria, a city whose distinctions actually include a large number of shoe factories. The trombonist began as a pianist shortly after the end of the Second World War, and in the early '50s was studying the trombone in the local conservatory.

This artist's initial bid as a performer was as a member of a radio dance band. He pursued a livelihood as a lawyer, switching to music to become a member of the Newport International Band, an international touring and recording outfit that also featured guitarist Gabor Szabo. Big shows such as the Brussels World Fair and a Columbia recording date obviously inspired the trombonist, who apparently never again succumbed to the temptation of accumulating thousands of dollars worth of billable hours.

Whether his legal arguments would have also been smooth, intellectually challenging, and intrinsically honest from the harmonic perspective is an interesting question. These were definitely positive characteristics of his trombone style stemming from the influence of progressive bop maestros J.J. Johnson and Bob Brookmeyer. The trombonist has performed on more than 50 recordings, collaborators including fellow trombonist Slide Hampton, Yugoslavian trumpeter Dusko Goykovich, trumpeter Art Farmer, multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Giuffre, and tenor saxophone giants Joe Henderson and Clifford Jordan. In the '70s the trombonist performed regularly in Europe as the leader of his own quintet.