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Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Persuasive Trombone Of Urbie Green


I Had The Craziest Dream

The Persuasive Trombone Of Urbie Green and His Orchestra
Originated and Produced by Enoch Light
Associate Producer: Julie Klages
Recording Chief: Robert Fine
Mastering: George Piros
Art Director: Charles E. Murphy
Command Records RS 815 SD

From the inside cover: Urbie Green is a musician who is equal to the type of perfection represented by the engineering that has gone into this recording. Since 1954, when he was 28 years old, Urbie has been the top studio trombonist in the highly competitive musical world of New York. He reached this eminence in less than a year after he decided to settle down in New York after many years on the road with Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Jan Savitt, Frankie Carle and various other bands. His incredibly quick rise to the top spot in New York was largely due to his ability to play any kind of style with brilliance and polish.

"I've been compared to just about every trombone player that ever lived," he once told Nat Hentoff in a Down Beat interview. "Maybe the reason for that is that I've had to play so many styles – Dixieland, Dorsey-like lead, and later, modern jazz. For a number of years I had to do so many different things on the trombone to make a living and help support the family. My dad died when I was 15 and we had to take care of mother and my sister who was still in high school. My other two brothers were in the Army."

Urbie began playing in Dixieland bands around his home town, Mobile, Alabama, when he was 14. He picked up the rudiments of his horn from his two older brothers and taught himself the rest. He continued to pick up pointers from older musicians in all the bands he worked with but he never took any formal lessons until he reached New York in 1953. By the time he was 16, Urbie had moved to California and was playing with Jan Savitt. For Savitt he played both lead and jazz trombone but after he left Savitt he played nothing but lead for two years with Frankie Carle and three years with Gene Krupa. In the last of his three years with Krupa he also got to play jazz trombone again as well as lead. That was when Woody Herman heard him and made him both his lead and jazz trombonist, a position he held for three years.

After he settle in New York, Urbie's versatility immediately became apparent when Lester Lanin made him first-call trombonist for his society bands. Shortly afterwards, when Benny Goodman was forming an all-star group for weekend dates, the trombonist he chose was Urbie Green. And Woody Herman still remembers a date he played in New Orleans when Urbie was with his band and there was persistent demand for some Dixieland from Herman's unflinchingly modern jazz Herd.

"We would have been dead," Woody says, "if it hadn't been for Urbie Green."

The thing about Urbie Green, of course, is not simply that he plays everything but that he plays everything superbly well. This is a natural result of Urbie's philosophy.

At Last
Prisoner Of Love
I've Heard That Song Before
Moonlight Serenade
Stairway To The Stars
Let's Fall In Love
My Silent Love
My Melancholy Baby
I Had The Craziest Dream
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
I Can't Get Started


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