4BR Top 10 - The Top 10 Trombonists
This was very, very difficult indeed. So difficult
in fact, that we very nearly took the easy option and chickened
out and replaced the feature with the top 10 triangle players of
all time, as it would have been a great deal easier.
The trombone is the one brass instrument that has a worldwide musical
influence, be it within or outside the brass banding world, and
so we took the view that we therefore had to look at all musical
idioms in which it prominently features. From classical to jazz
from pop to brass bands we cast our eye over as many players
we could think of and tried to make an eclectic selection that encompassed
them all. Thats why we found it so bloody difficult, as there
are literally hundreds of brilliant players of the instrument in
any of these fields.
Given the differing styles and performing diversities, we have gone
for the top 10 players who we think are, or have been unique talents
in their field, and for us are therefore the very best. We asked
several well known trombone players to give us their lists and they
came up with over 40 different players, but these were the ones
that were nominated the most. You may or disagree, but we think
you would have a field day getting hold of and listening to the
recordings we have recommended you listen to. All are simply awesome.
No real order just ten brilliant players.
Joseph Alessi has been Principal Trombone with the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra since 1985. Prior to joining the New York Philharmonic
he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons and studied
at the famous Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. As with
a number of top American trombone players Alessi has the ability
to 'cross-over' styles extremely effectively, which is something
which seems to come naturally with trombone players Stateside -
why not over here?
Alessi now has an extremely exhausting recital schedule and has
performed many premieres of new works for trombone; the Pulitzer
Prize winning Christopher Rouse Trombone Concerto and the Creston
Fantasy to name just a few.
One of the many enviable aspects of Alessis playing is his
sound quality. His ability to create a 'white hot' sound in extremes
of dynamic range and register is something other players can only
aspire to. Our panel recommended any trombone player obtain a recording
of this consummate musician as so much can be learned from his musicianship
Weve asked around and have been reliably informed that you
should get a recording of him entitled 'New York Legends' CACD0508
Frank Rosolino was a towering genius and a trombone virtuoso in
the jazz genre. He will be remembered and respected throughout the
contemporary jazz world mainly for his mastery of the trombone.
After leaving the Army in 1946 Rosolinos big break came when
he was offered the trombone chair with the great Stan Kenton Band
in 1952. He stayed with the Kenton Band until 1962 then, due to
a constant search for a more fulfilling role for the jazz trombone,
decided to embark on a number of world tours with trumpeter Conti
Condoli in 1973 and 1975 and then as featured soloist with the legendary
Quincy Jones in the late 70's.
Rosolino can be heard on numerous Stan Kenton studio recordings
such as 'The Best of Stan Kenton', 'New Concepts of Artistry in
Rhythm' and with Quincy Jones on the famous 'Body Heat' soundtrack.
What happened on the morning of November 26th 1978 is an enigma
that has haunted jazz trombone players for many years. The facts
are clear; he shot his two young sons, killing one and blinding
and permanently disabling the other, then he turned the gun on himself,
ending his own life.
Rosolino was arguably the finest all round jazz trombone player
of his generation.
Recommended recording - 'Fond Memories of Frank Rosolino' DTRCD-113
Double Time Records
Arthur Pryor was in every sense a 'phenomenon'. From 1895 to 1903
he was trombone soloist and assistant conductor of the famous Sousa
Band. Pryor was a musician as well as a technician. Along with his
phenomenal tonguing ability and lightning fast slide action, he
was equally well known for his beautiful tone and expressive style.
In fact he actually preferred playing slow lyrical ballads and operatic
arias to the fast, spell binding pieces that Sousa often insisted
he perform. His clear unforgettable tone was marked with a constant
vibrato, the result of a boyhood accident when a mule kicked him
in the face, resulting in partial paralysis!
Through the years with the Sousa band he shared the spotlight with
the famous cornetist Herbert Clarke, who said of him "His technique
was wonderful, greater than any clarinet player I ever heard......
When we were together with Sousa I heard him play his solos twice
daily for years, hundreds of times, and never heard him miss a note".
A generation of trombonists have tried to imitate him, and the instrument
has never been the same since.
Recommended recording - 'Arthur Pryor - Trombone Soloist of the
Sousa Band' Crystal Records CD451
The name Don Lusher is synonymous with excellent trombone playing.
Even to this day he is the master of ballad playing.
Like many instrumentalists, Lusher received his early tuition in
the ranks of the Salvation Army Band in Peterborough. After leaving
the Forces in 1947 he landed the trombone job with the Ted Heath
Band, where he stayed as lead trombonist and Director until sadly
they disbanded earlier this year.
Don's achievements are too numerous to mention but, for us, the
finest aspect of his playing is his ability to make the instrument
sing. His ballad playing is unsurpassed. The Gordon Langford Rhapsody
for Trombone, written especially for him remains a flagship
piece of writing, and one numerous fine players have performed with
varying degrees of success ever since.
Recommended recording - 'The Don Lusher Big Band' Chandos Records
When it came to the choice of the best trombone in the brass banding
field the name of Nick Hudson was top of our list - and rightly
so. Hudson started his career within the Salvation Army movement
before becoming Principal Trombone of the Fodens Band at the age
of 15. From that time on he has become the finest player of his
generation both on the concert and contesting stage, with a superb
technique allied to a pure trombone sound.
In addition he has expanded the repertoire of the instrument from
its historical brass band confines and had earned himself
an enviable reputation as a soloists, teacher and clinician. In
the brass band world he is without equal and our panel were unanimous
in its praise for his playing, which they felt rightly, earned his
position within our top 10.
Recommended recording 'New Horizons' Belburn Records BELB008
Click for an appraisal of his
Denis Wick was for many years Principal Trombone with the London
Symphony Orchestra, and it is in this role that he is responsible
for some of the finest orchestral trombone playing you will hear.
Playing the role of Principal Trombone in a symphony orchestra calls
for many differing approaches to balance, articulation and projection
than that of a brass band player. There are many recordings where
Denis Wick can be heard but a favourite of our panel is a recording
of Walton's First Symphony recorded in the late 60's with Howard
Snell on Trumpet, Denis Wick on Trombone and John Fletcher on Tuba.
Denis's Wicks ability to project the character and sound of
the trombone is something all players should aspire to.
He is now retired and lives in Bournemouth and is still actively
involved in trombone pedagogy. He also had a handy sideline in mouthpieces,
which surely made him the only man to have his name on the lips
of just about every brass player in the world.
Recommended recording 'Walton's First Symphony' RCA Victor conductor
Swedish born Christian Lindberg can proudly be called the first
full time trombone solo artist. His schedule reads a relentless
list of recitals, premieres and solo recordings.
Christian Lindburg is one of the master exponents of trombone who
has worked tirelessly to bring the perception of the trombone as
a solo instrument to a wider public. What a good job he has done!
As with all brass instruments, players' sounds and timbre vary according
to nationality. This can be the only reason for Lindburgs
individual sound. If you take time to listen to these listed players
you will notice that the majority are American. Listening to him
is a perfect example of how the 'voice' of the trombone can change
in different hands.
Christian Lindburg has made numerous solo recordings on the BIS
label and is a fabulous all round musician and trombonist.
Recommended recording 'The Winter Trombone' BIS CD348
Bill Watrous is one of a handful of artists who have influenced
a generation of players. His velvety tone quality, amazing agility,
range and trademark 'doodle tonguing have combined to prompt many
an aspiring trombonist to throw his instrument off a cliff!
One of his trademarks is his fascinating use of multiphonics. Whilst
generally gimmicks such as these should be strongly avoided Watrous
incorporates this effect into his impro' solos with great effect.
Bill Watrous now has his own big band in LA and has produced a number
of acclaimed recordings on Double Time Records.
Listening to players of such as Bill can teach us so much in our
approach to playing. Taking time to listen and learn from these
masters can pay dividends in our own playing.
Recommended recording 'Space Available' Double Time Records DTRCD124
JJ Johnson was probably best known for his trombone playing with
such greats as Miles Davis, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. His
tone has inspired many jazz trombone players and his consummate
improvisational skills are yet to be surpassed. Although they may
not know it, most of today's jazz trombone players have in some
way been influenced by JJ's playing.
Often referred to as 'The King', the recent passing of JJ Johnson
has deprived us of one of the great jazz trombone players of the
Recommended recording 'Live at the Village Vanguard' Antilles Records
We are all aware (and no doubt proud) that Ian Bousfields
roots are within the brass band movement. His early musical education
encompassed brass bands such as Yorkshire Imperial Metals before
he started his orchestral career as Principal Trombone with the
Halle Orchestra but soon travelled south to join the London Symphony
His playing is typically British. This is no way meant in a derogatory
manner, far from it in fact, as his ideas with regards to sound
quality, articulation and projection are more than enviable. His
reputation in the orchestral world a notoriously hard world
to gain any sort of reputation of competence let alone brilliance
For the first time on record, the Vienna Philharmonic invited a
British player to join their ranks. Ian Bousfield went through a
rigorous audition routine and won a unanimous vote from the panel
an unprecedented achievement, and one that reflected his
pre-eminence as the finest European symphonic trombone player.
Bousfield can also be heard on many recordings but he has recently
recorded a disc on the EMI label 'Virtuosi' which demonstrates perfectly
why he has made with comfort our Top 10 list.