Urbie Green: Persuasive Trombone - JazzWax

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September 21, 2011


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A couple of weeks ago I asked a trombone player about the wailing solo on the Sinatra/Riddle "Under My Skin." Turns out it was Urbie. According to my source, the uncharacteristic tone was the result of his being too far from the microphone. (I'd just been assuming that it was what Nelson wanted.)


Milt Bernhart played the solo on the original 1956 "I've Got You Under My Skin." The tone was not uncharacteristic at all for this former Kentonite. Al Grey played it on "Sinatra at the Sands." Urbie Green was probably on the "Main Event" version in 1974.

Urbie was also featured on Sinatra's 1984 "L.A. is My Lady" album.

Brett Gold

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Urbie feature. Persuasive Trombone features some great playing, but The 6tet album (pictured in the feature) was his best jazz album, with excellent playing by Doc Severinsen -- Check out his beautiful version of The Bad and the Beautiful on that album. One interesting thing about Urbie's playing is that his unmatched ballad playing ability (that is, until Bill Watrous came along) contrasts with a fairly raw solo style on faster numbers -- I have a four trombone set of his from the 1973 Dick Gibson Jazz Party, with Carl Fontana, Kai Winding and Trummy Young, and Urbie is hard to distinguish from Dixieland player Young.

You can see Urbie both in The Bennie Goodman Story (w/Steve Allen, who was taught to play clarinet by Goodman afficionado Sol Yaged) and in Jazz on a Summer's Day, backing Dinah Washington.

Now, how about a feature on his two 21 Trombones albums!

Marc, you're the best.


I've heard that a number of the beautiful trombone solos on the easy-listening 'Muzak'-type elevator music in the '60s and '70s was Urbie Green, also. What a tone!


Very nice to see some love for one of the many excellent jazz albums made by Command Records in the 60's. Some more facts about the Urbie Green Command albums. The large-ensemble records were arranged by Lew Davies, Command's staff arranger in the early 60's. The small-group material was arranged by the group. Command sessions were done at Fine Recording's Ballroom Studio A, which was the gilded ballroom of the Great Northern Hotel on 57th St. Bob Fine was the engineer on the Urbie Green albums. A main part of Command's market appeal was the high fidelity of the records, and the marketing text on the backs of the gatefold albums were designed to highlight the combination of exciting music and exciting sonics. Inside notes covered descriptions of the tunes, often highlighting individual performances and their placement in the sound-field. The "reissue" sold at iTunes is a gray-market dub from an LP. Better sound quality may be found in a good-condition quarter-track reel of the album, assuming the tape is in good condition. One final note: Urbie Green played on numerous Command albums, both jazz-oriented and pop-centric releases. He also recorded for Enoch Light's next label, Project 3. Other notable musicians who played on numerous Command records were Doc Severinsen, Tony Mottola, Dick Hyman, Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton, Phil Woods, Ed Shaughnessy, Bobby Rosengarden, Don Lamond and Bob Haggart. Much more info about Command Records and Enoch Light can be found at the excellent website www.enochlight.com.


Here's an update to my comments above. Lesson/memo to self -- always pull the LP and read the liner notes before posting to a blog!

According to the liner notes, arrangements were by Bobby Byrne, but later there is mention of "Davies and Byrne," which indicates to me that Lou Davies had a hand in arrangements also.

Musicians listed in the liner notes: trombones - Urbie Green, Bobby Byrne, Eddie Bert, Gil Cohen; trumpets - Doc Severinsen, Nick Travis, Don Ferrara, John Bello; reeds - Rolf Kuhn, Hal McKusick, Ed Wasserman, Pepper Adams/Gene Allen (they each played on different selections, but not together, both played baritone sax); rhythm - Nat Pierce or Dave McKenna on piano, Barry Galbraith on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass, Don Lamond on drums.

Does anyone have similar information for Persuasive Trombone Vol. 2? I don't have that LP.

-- Tom

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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