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10 Famous Trombone Players of All Time

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Famous Trombone Players
23 May, 2024

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The trombone is a fascinating musical instrument that started its journey in 15th-century Europe popularly known as sackbut then. This instrument still flaunts its charm in modern orchestras, brass bands, and jazz ensembles. This blog is dedicated to all the trombone fans who want to explore the list of the most famous trombone players of all time. Here begins our list-

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10 Famous Trombone Players

1: Tommy Dorsey

Tommy Dorsey
An image credit example from a New York Public Radio

Born: November 19, 1905

Died: November 26, 1956

Place of birth: Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Best works: Boogie Woogie, Marie, The Dipsy Doodle, Song of India, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Tommy Dorsey, one of the most famous trombone players, was popular for his smooth style. He was known as a “sentimental gentleman of swing” because of his style. He began learning music lessons from his father at a very young age. He started playing trumpet and trombone for a reputed brand led by Tal Henry at 15.

Dorsey’s music ranged from hot swings to smooth dance tunes. He also could play clarinet and saxophone amazingly. He was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

2: J.J. Johnson

J.J. Johnson
An image credit example from a Trombone Jazz Radio

Born: January 22, 1924

Died: February 4, 2001

Place of birth: Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.

Best works: My Favorite Things, Man and Boy, Short Cake, and Old Devil Moon

J.J. Johnson is called “Charlie Parker of the trombone” because of his grace and excellence. He began studying the piano at age 9, but by the age of 14, he developed his interest in Tomborne. He began his professional career with Clarence Love at the age of 17.

He dominated as a Trombonist for over four decades and was known as a talented composer and arranger. He was a persistent jazz magazine poll winner for his matchless trombone playing. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Indiana. He also received the Indiana Governor’s Art Award in 1989.

3: Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: March 1, 1904

Died: December 15, 1944

Place of birth: Clarinda, Iowa, United States

Best work: Moonlight Serenade, Room 1411 (Goin’ to Town), Sold American, Solo Hop, Introduction to a Waltz

Alton Glenn Miller is known as one of the most famous trombone players of the 20th century. He was a legend of the “Big Band Era”, and his music served humanity during the Second World War.

He started his musical career by dropping out of school. He learned his music lessons from Joseph Schillinger and composed his first song, “Moonlight Serenade”. After exploring for some time, he started a stable career with Ben Pollack’s group in Los Angeles. His musical talent honored him with many awards, such as the Bronze Star Medal and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

4: Wycliffe Gordon

Wycliffe Gordon
An image credit example from a Yamaha Music USA

Born: May 29, 1967

Place of birth: Waynesboro, Georgia, United States

Best work: It Don’t Mean a Thing, The Hallelujah Shout, One O’clock Jump, and Swing That Music

Wycliffe is renowned for his energetic sound, unique techniques, and unconventional performance style. These qualities make him one of the most famous trombone players of today. He joined a band at 13 when he was in high school. After listening to Louis Armstrong, he inclined passionately toward Jazz music. Later in his career, he expanded himself beyond swing music. He was awarded the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Trombonist of the Year multiple times and nominated for the Jazzpar Award.

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5: Curtis Fuller

Curtis Fuller
An image credit example from a The New York Times

Born: December 15, 1934

Died: May 8, 2021

Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Best work: Five Spot After Dark, Lil’ Darling, Five Spots After Dark, and Soul Bossa Nova

Curtis Fuller is an obvious name to add to the list of famous trombone players of all time. His distinctive style of playing the trombone and amazing sense of swing made him legendary. He became a driving force in jazz after the World War era.

He came to New York when he was 23, and within no time, he became a leading trombonist of the hard-bop movement. As an NEA Jazz Master, he was honored with a doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music in 1999.

6: Slide Hampton

Slide Hampton
An image credit example from a The New York Times

Born: April 21, 1932

Died: November 18, 2021

Place of birth: Jeannette, Pennsylvania, United States

Best work: Day in Day Out, Gorgeous George, The Shadow of Your Smile, and Frame For the Blues

Locksley Wellington Hampton, popularly called Slide Hampton, was one of the most famous trombone players of modern times and was known for his gifted talent and passion for the trombone. He got his nickname ‘Slide’ Because of his main instrument, the slide trombone. He started his musical journey too early. This true prodigy was already touring for a band when he was just 12.

He performed with Lionel Hempton’s band at Carnegie Hall when he was 20. As for his trombone, Hampton is also known for his writings. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation. In 2005, he was awarded the highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

7: Frank Rosolino

Frank Rosolino
An image credit example from a Discogs

Born: August 20, 1926

Died: November 26, 1978

Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Best work: Conversation, All the Things You Are, Let’s Make It, Free for All, and Blue Danie

Frank Rosolino surely made it to our list of famous trombone players because of his unique style, which was both flexible and vigorous. He amalgamated swing style and bebop in his music. He started playing trombone in high school and played for the army band during his military service in the Second World War. He worked with notable artists like Sarah Vaughan, Michel Legrand, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and many more. His suicidal death at the age of 52 and the killing of his son were a nightmare that the music world could never forget.

8: Steve Turrey

Steve Turre
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: September 12, 1948

Place of birth: Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Best work: In a Sentimental Mood, Rainbow People, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, and Montuno Caracol

Steve Turre is known as the most diverse, innovative, and one of the most famous trombone players of today. For the first time, he used conch shells as a musical instrument in jazz music. His career kicked started at the age of 24 when he got hired by Ray Charles to join a tour. He contributed to jazz music with his soulful melodies and inventions like the shell instrument. He was awarded Best Trombonist by the Down Beat Reader Poll multiple times.

9: Kai Winding

Kai Winding
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Born: May 18, 1922

Died: May 6, 1983

Place of birth: Aarhus, Denmark

Best work: All at Once You Love Her, Wallington’s Godchild, Alone Together, and Sleepy Bop

Kai Winding was one of the founding figures of bebop music, known for his dedication to jazz music. He collaborated with many famous trombone players of his time, like Sonny Dunham, Alvino Rey, and Allen. His style of trombone playing was very much similar to JJ Johnson’s. His association with JJ Johnson became popular. He was nominated for the Grammy award.

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10: Al Grey

Al Grey
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Born: June 6, 1925

Died: March 24, 2000

Place of birth: Aldie, Virginia, United States

Best work: On the Trail, Milestones, Muskrat Ramble, Fight of the Foo Birds, and Salty Papa

Best known for his plunger mute technique, Al Grey is one of the most famous trombone players ever. He inherited music from his father, who was a trumpet player. He commercially started playing trombone at the age of 21 by joining Benny Carter. He contributed many hits to the jazz legacy. His plunger mute technique was popular, and he wrote an instruction book named “Plunger Techniques”.

FAQs

Who is the most famous trombone player?

Tommy Dorsey is the most famous Trombone player ever. He was popular for his smoothest style. He was known as a “sentimental gentleman of swing” because of his style.

Who is a famous bass trombone player?

George Roberts is a famous bass trombone player. He established the bass horn as a solo instrument.

Who is the best trombone player alive?

Steve Turre is the best trombone player alive. He is known for being diverse and innovative. He is best known for his songs like In a Sentimental Mood, Rainbow People, and Montuno Caracol.

Who is a professional trombone player?

Megumi Kanda is a professional trombone player born in Japan. She is a proud Greenhoe clinician and uses the Greenhoe trombone for her performances. She has been the Principal Trombone of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 2002. She is also a professional trombone teacher and a published author of books like “The One Hundred” and “Trombone Unlimited.”

How did Tommy Dorsey influence the popularity of the trombone?

Tommy Dorsey influenced the popularity of the trombone through his unique style of playing, the purity of his tone, and his lifelong dedication. His songs Boogie Woogie, Marie, The Dipsy Doodle, and Song of India are popular. His renowned albums are the one and only Tommy Dorsey, One Night Stand, and More Tea for Two Cha Chas.

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