One of the world’s preeminent jazz innovators, trombonist and seashellist Steve Turre has consistently won both the Readers’ and Critics’ polls in JazzTimes, Downbeat, and JazzIz in the category of Best Trombone and Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist (shells). Turre was born to Mexican-American parents and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where he absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz. After a brief flirtation with the violin, Turre gravitated to the trombone. While attending Sacramento State University and joined the Escovedo Brothers salsa band, the beginnings of his career-long involvement with that genre.In 1972 Steve Turre’s career picked up momentum when Ray Charles hired him to go on tour. A year later Turre’s mentor Woody Shaw brought him into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with a diverse list of musicians from the jazz, Latin, and pop worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The latter introduced him to the seashell as an instrument. Soon after that, while touring in Mexico City on tour with Woody Shaw, Turre’s relatives informed him that his ancestors similarly played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated seashells into his diverse musical style.
Turre leads several different ensembles. Sanctified Shells utilizes the seashell in a larger context, transforming his horn section into a “shell choir”. Turre’s Spring 1999 Verve release, Lotus Flower, showcases his Sextet With Strings. The recording explores many great standards and original compositions arranged by Turre for a unique instrumentation of trombone and shells, violin, cello, piano, bass and drums. Turre’s quartet and quintet provides a more traditional jazz setting and his two most recent recordings for the Telarc label document these ensembles in a very special way. In The Spur of the Moment (July 2000) features Steve with three different quartets, each with a different and distinct master pianist: Ray Charles, Chucho Valdés, and Stephen Scott. In July 2001, “TNT” (Trombone and Tenor) was released. This quintet configuration features James Carter, David Sanchez and Dewey Redman on tenor saxophones.
Steve Turre is known throughout the world as an artist who never sits still. He continues to forge out new directions incorporating his command of many musical genres. When it comes to his distinct brand of jazz, he always keeps one foot in the past and one in the future.