Whilst trombones are frequently associated with brass bands, their adaptability has led to their use in a wide range of musical situations, including brass bands, symphonic orchestras, jazz bands, and even rock musicians. Given the structure of the trombone and the way it is performed, mastering it requires years of practice, and we kneel before the world’s greatest trombone players to ever exist. We have had the opportunity to discover the trombone’s sound individuality through works and performances that have revolutionized the course of music and the history of this instrument thanks to their talent, innovation, and passion. We have compiled a list of some of the world’s famous trombone players for you.
Miff Mole, USA (1898-1961)
Miff Mole, regarded as one of the best early jazz trombonists, not just performed the instrument expertly, but he also approached it in interesting ways, leading to the development of such a unique solo jazz trombone style. He was also a leader, and his performances propelled him to prominence in the 1920s New York jazz scene. Many among his records feature famous trombone players of the time, like as Eddie Lang and Jimmy Dorsey. Mole played on numerous of Sophie Tucker’s records, including ‘Red Hot Mama.’ ‘Miff’s Blues,’ ‘Slippin’ Around,’ and ‘There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See)’ are some of the other recordings that have become synonymous with his professional career.
Jack Teagarden, USA (1905-1964)
Jack Teagarden, who also was a jazz singer as well as a trombone player, is included on any ranking of the top trombone jazz players. He created a lyrical approach, which, when paired with his inventiveness and talent, earned him a spot among the greatest trombone players. Teagarden is widely regarded as the most influential pre-bop trombone performer in jazz history, enchanting audiences not only with his trombone playing but also with his singing. He pushed his enthusiasm for the trombone to the next level by creating mouthpieces and mutes for it. Over 1,000 recordings for well-known companies such as Columbia and Capitol are included in the musician’s professional activity and portfolio.
Arthur Pryor, USA (1870-1942)
Arthur Pryor, a great trombone player who played between the late 1800s and early 1900s and whose performances were a novelty at the time because to his distinctive technique that no other trombonist musician could duplicate, had a huge influence on the trombone’s evolution.He is best remembered for his work with the John Philip Sousa Band, which comprised over 10,000 solo concerts. He was more than just a famous trombone player, though, as he used his talent and enthusiasm for the instrument to compose music. Pryor is widely regarded as the best trombone player of all time, and many other famous trombone players still perform his pieces. He also collaborated with other notable artists of the day, including as Herbert Clarke.
Glenn Miller, USA (1904-1994)
Glenn Miller was not just one of the most prominent jazz trombone players, but also a composer, arranger, and bandleader throughout the 1930s. He led various Swing Era bands, demonstrating his talent and competence through unusual instrumentation arrangements. During 1939 and 1943, he was the best-selling recorded artist and highest-paid performer in the world as a trombone. ‘A String of Pearls,’ ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000,’ ‘In the Mood,’ ‘Tuxedo Junction,’ and ‘A String of Pearls,’ to name a few, are among his most popular works. In just four years, he had 16 number one albums and 69 top ten hits, that’s more than the Beatles or Elvis Presley had in their whole careers.
J.J. Johnson, USA (1924-2001)
J.J. Johnson’s skill and talent have earned him the title as one of the best jazz trombonists of all time. He began his career in the 1940s with large bands and orchestras, and for the next few years, he worked with many notable artists of the day, namely Max Roach, Bud Powell, and Sonny Stitt. According to trombonist Steve Turre, what J.J. Johnson’s contributions to the trombone’s evolution was comparable to Charlie Parker’s contribution to the evolution of saxophone playing, and he even dubbed him the century’s trombone master. In addition to his professional accomplishments, he has a long list of accomplishments as a musician.
Frank Rosolino, USA (1926-1978)
Frank Rosolino is one of the many great jazz trombonists that have graced the jazz stage. He began playing the trombone since he was a teen and proceeded to do so when he entered a military band during WWII. He influenced how jazz developed and how this instrument could be employed in this form of music. His repertoire is extensive, with a large number of albums and collaborations with well-known performers. He was involved with a number of L.A.-based projects. Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughan, and Michel Legrand were among the performers who performed with him at recording studios. Rosolino was indeed a gifted vocalist who was known for his crazy style of scat-singing, which he used on Gene Krupa’s classic “Lemon Drop.” Turn Me Loose! was his only vocal album. , in which he sings and plays the trombone.
Tommy Dorsey, USA (1905-1956)
Tommy Dorsey, dubbed the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing,” was one of the most famous trombone players of his time as well as a writer, bandleader, and director. Despite the fact that he was proficient on both the trumpet as well as the trombone, he preferred to focus on the latter. The seamless approach and trombone technique earned him acclaim and adoration from music enthusiasts and musicians alike. His brother, Jimmy Dorsey, is equally well throughout his performances. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, they founded the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, which was a huge hit.
Urbie Green, USA (1926-2018)
Urbie Green, regarded as one of the greatest jazz trombone players of all time, has had a significant impact on the evolution of jazz and music, and his work has impacted numerous performers. He started out playing the trombone at the age of twelve and was dedicated to mastering it, which he did, as his efforts resulted in a successful career spanning decades. He does indeed have a long list of solo albums to his credit, along with over 250 records on which he has played. Green was honored by the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995.
Joseph Alessi, USA (1959-Present)
Joseph Alessi is one of today’s most famous trombone players, owing to his command of the instrument, variety, and ease with which he plays many styles. He is the lead trombone player for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and has won numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the ITA Award, which is the organization’s most prestigious award. He has played with a number of notable ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and is widely regarded as one of the best trombone players of all time. Alessi is also a performer who teaches, performs alone, and records.
Robin Eubanks, USA (1956-Present)
Robin Eubanks, who comes from a family of musicians, is regarded as one of the most important jazz trombonists of his period. Considering his work as a professor and clinician at various colleges and universities all around the world, including the United States, he is also a significant supporter of this instrument. He has been well and respected for his contributions to different projects, including the Dave Holland Quintet and Michael Brecker’s Quindectet. He won a Grammy for his contribution to Brecker’s effort. His talent and mastery have been highly recognized, and he has received numerous accolades.
See some of Robin Eubanks great performances on his website.
Don Lusher, United Kingdom (1923-2006)
When researching the best jazz trombonist or even some of the most influential figures in the profession, Don Lusher is likely to appear in such publications and lists. His trombone proficiency and superb playing earned him fame and acclaim. He is well-known for his works with the Ted Heath Big Band, as well as other orchestras and bands, including the Manhattan Sound Big Band. Lusher has been the President of the British Trombone Society as well as a Professor at the Royal Marines School of Music and the Royal College of Music when he toured with Frank Sinatra, where he headed the trombone section.
Curtis Fuller, USA (1932-2021)
Curtis Fuller’s performances are also influenced by the evolution of jazz. The American jazz trombone is best known for his work with the Jazz Messengers and contributions to a number of legendary jazz records. He performed on a number of albums led by some of the most prominent musicians of the day, including John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Clark, and Joe Henderson, to mention a few, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Fuller’s accomplishments also include an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, as well as a large record of solo and sideman works.
Emory Remington, USA (1891-1971)
Emory Remington is a prominent character when it refers to famous trombone players who shaped how the instrument is played. He was considered a pioneer in this field due to his distinctive playing methods. When it came to playing the orchestral trombone, he used a more modern approach, and he was also the one who created the warm-up regimen for the instrument. Remington was an instructor at the Eastman School of Music in New York and a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. His dynamic range, new approach, and distinctive tone contributed towards the trombone’s popularity among young trombone players over his teaching career, and his dynamic range, modern approach, and unique tone added to the instrument’s appeal among young players.
Melba Doretta Liston, USA (1926-1999)
Melba Doretta Liston’s work as a trombonist, composer, and arranger influenced the world of music. She was not only probably one of the best female trombonists of the 1940s and 1960s, but she was also the first woman trombonist to perform with large orchestras. Randy Weston, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Coltrane were among the notable musicians she collaborated with at the period. Her career is notable for the quantity of works she has done as a leader and as a guest. Melba Liston, despite being a brilliant trombone performer, was best renowned for her arrangements and pieces, particularly those she collaborated on with Randy Weston. Her early work, which she did largely in Los Angeles, was with two West Coast masters: bandleader Gerald Wilson and tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon.
Kai Winding, USA (1922-1983)
Kai Winding, a talented trombonist as well as a jazz composer, influenced the evolution of jazz throughout his trombone performances and creations. He is well-known for his work with the aforementioned J.J. Abrams. Johnson. His career lasted three decades and featured appearances with notable performers and orchestras of the day. He was a leader/co-leader and sideman on recordings with Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughan, and Stan Kenton, to name a few, and his career includes numerous works as a leader/co-leader and sideman on recordings with Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughan, and Stan Kenton, to mention a few. Kai Winding’s bop history has been preserved through a number of excellent reissues and numerous anthologies. Nevertheless, one hopes that major companies would finally appreciate Kai Winding’s significant role as part of Verve Records during the 1960s.
Bill Watrous, USA (1939-2018)
Bill Watrous, one of the best bop trombonists of the last 30 years, has kept a modest profile since relocating to Los Angeles in the 1980s, despite staying active. As a youngster, he was a member of traditional jazz bands. Watrous made his debut with Billy Butterfield, and from 1962 until 1967, he was a trombone in Kai Winding’s groups. During the 1960s, he worked as a professional musician in New York. Watrous headed his own big band (the Manhattan Wildlife Refuge) from 1973 until 1977, making two excellent recordings for Columbia, after playing with the jazz-rock combo Ten Wheel Drive in 1971. He’s recorded for Columbia, Famous Door, Soundwings, GNP Crescendo, and Double-Time with his late-’90s large ensemble.