JJ Johnson & Kai Winding: Trombone For Two

Four CDs collect the finest from the two trombonists, one notable for not being influenced by Bill Harris, the other leading the Harris pack


If, like me, you’re a trombone obsessive, then you can’t go wrong here, and the only qualification is the quality of some of the recordings, inevitably off their peak after so many years. But as ever Acrobat choose their material well, and there’ll be few complaints.

JJ was the first modern trombonist not to be influenced by Bill Harris, whilst Kai, first noted for his ecstatic and inspired wailing over the Kenton band (none of that here, sadly) was the leader of the Harris pack.

Both are comfortably at home in the famous Debut tracks, all nine of which (they run from Move to The Shrike), with their front lines made up from Jay and Kai, Bennie Green and Willie Dennis) are available here complete for, I think, the first time. Notable for roaring trombone, they also contain some most attractive and functional solo and accompanying piano from John Lewis.

But mainly this album belongs to Jay and Kai with interventions from some Quincy Jones groups including both, and the faultless two-part ensembles and inspired solos, assembled en masse, confirm what immaculate high standards they kept. Their finest duet album, the Bethlehem ’Nuf Said, which, like most of their duet albums featured the excellent pianist Dick Katz accompanying, is included complete.

CD1: (1) Move; Yesterdays; Trombonosphere; Chazzanova; Kai’s Day; The Shrike; (2) Blues For Trombones; What Is This Thing Called Love?; Lament; The Major Bernie’s Tune; Reflections; Co-Op; Blues In Twos; Lullaby Of Birdland; Cornerstone (72.24)
CD2: (3) Bone Of Contention; Birdland Festival; Funnybone; Vista; Hip Bones; Riviera; Dinner For One, Please James; Wind Bag; We’ll Be Together Again; Don’t Argue; How Long Has This Been Going On?; Bag’s Groove; (4) You’re Crying; Funk Junction; (5) Thou Swell; It’s Alright With Me; Lope City; Stolen Bass; Out Of This World (71.39)
CD3: (5) Gong Rock; Yes Sir, That’s My Baby; Mad About The Boy; Lover; That’s How I Feel About You; (6) Grasshopper; (7) Give Me The Simple Life; This Can’t Be Love; Trombone For Two;; We Two; Let’s Get Away From It All; Turnabout; It’s Sand Man; Close As Pages In A Book; The Whiffenpoof Song; Good-Bye; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; Caribe; Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe; The Song Is You (74.10)
CD4: (7) In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; (8) No Moon At All; You’re My Thrill; Jeanne; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; (9) You Don’t Know What Love Is; Piece For Two Tromboniums; Rise ’n’ Shine; The Continental; A Night In Tunisia; All At Once You Love Her; The Peanut Vendor; Four Plus Four; (9) Lover Come Back To Me; True Blue Tromboniums; NWPT; (10) Too Close For |Comfort; ’S Wonderful; Tromboniums In Motion; How High The Moon; Violets For Your Furs (68.55)

All tracks recorded in NYC unless stated otherwise. (1) J&K, Bennie Green, Willie Dennis (tb); John Lewis (p); Charlie Mingus (b); Art Taylor (d). 10 September 1953. (2) J&K plus rhythm, 24 & 26 August, 17 October 1954. (3) J&K plus rhythm, 17 October, 3 December 1954. (4) J&K with Quincy Jones Band, 7 December 1954. (5) J&K plus rhythm, 27 January 1955. (6) J&K with Quincy Jones Band, 25 February 1955. (7) J&K with rhythm, 23 & 24 June, 17 November 1955. (8) Jay & Kai Trombone Octet: J&K, Bob Alexander, Eddie Bert, Urbie Green, Jimmy Cleveland, Tom Mitchell, Bart Varsalona (tb); Hank Jones (p); Milt Hinton (b); Osie Johnson (d). 2, 4 & 6 April 1956. (9) Jay & Kai plus rhythm, Newport Jazz Festival, 6 July 1956. (10) J&K plus rhythm, 18 July, 1956.
Acrobat ACOCD 37159