Featuring trombone

Three new trombone-led discs

The trombone has—like jazz itself—gone through a lot of changes since its “tailgate” days of a century ago, as evidenced by these three trombonist-led groups. At 75, Curtis Fuller is the eldest here, and his career includes a lot of small-group playing—in 1959 he co-founded the Jazztet with Art Farmer and Benny Golson, then joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers—as well as the bands of Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. His full, rich playing is firmly based in the bop tradition, and on I Will Tell Her (Capri Records) his sextet (trumpet, tenor, piano, bass and drums) works its way (on two discs—live and in studio) through some originals and standards by Kenny Dorham (two versions of “Minor’s Holiday”) and Sonny Rollins. Solid goods from start to finish! John Fedchock first came to fame in the ’80s with Woody Herman’s Orchestra and his big-band résumé also includes stints in the bands of Gerry Mulligan and Louie Bellson. On Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, his NY Sextet stretches out on four of his originals and Tom Harrell’s smooth “Moon Alley.” My favorite is their superb version of fellow trombonist Juan Tizol’s “Caravan.” Steve Swell is a “high-octane” free jazz player “with more than 30 albums to his credit” and his agitated 5,000 Poems finds him blowing awfully hard on seven originals in company with a reedman and a rhythm section. Free jazz fans are hereby alerted.