Who Are The Most Influential Trombonists?

I asked Twitter. Though the response to this has, of course, been shaped by my modest following and my location, this Tweet has attracted such a variety of thoughtful responses, I had to share it.

Below are just some of the players that came up, keep scrolling for a full list. The larger the name, the more frequent the mention. It’s a huge pool of influence, with many shared favourites. 

For anyone interesting in counting, this is who (my) Twitter chose as the top, Top 5; Ian Bousfield, Joseph Alessi, Urbie Green, Denis Wick and George Roberts. This will be of no surprise to any trombone player; it is not only a list of astonishing players, but pioneers too.

This not where the conversation ends, after all, these are only five names of some hundred or so that have appeared in this conversation so far. I do not want to present these with any ranking – to compare these influences is little help. Influence is personal and we will all have different things to take, even if from the same names.

Why?

The why is what really makes this interesting. I had responses from a variety of trombone interests. Some soloists, orchestral players, some teachers, some not trombone players themselves, just admirers – the why is what brought these responses together. I encourage you to sift through the whole thread, but here are some highlights.

Do click through to read this whole response!
It’s important you read all of Dan’s thread, here.
There’s an important 2/2, too.

Considering who has been an influence on your own ideas and why they have left such a mark is a valuable exercise and so clearly worth sharing. Please remember 1. To Always ask why. 2. That your own teachers and your own teaching is as important as anything. 3. To talk to your friends, your colleagues and your teachers about who they are influenced by and (back to 1.) To always ask why.

My Top 5

Before I go – because I should do the hard bit too – here are my five, right now. In no particular order;

  • Alain Trudel – sound, expression
  • Emily White – meaning, sharing
  • George Roberts – entertaining, communicating
  • Helen Vollam – impossible to choose words, Helen’s playing just makes you want to listen
  • Simon Wills – everything

Like many of you I just can’t leave it at five, and have some special mentions to wedge in. The rest of my team of teachers; Peter Gane, Eric Crees, John Kenny, Chris Houlding, Dave Whitson, Dave Stewart and some non-trombone teachers who were an important influence too. Not forgetting the valuable every day exchanges with both my colleagues and students – this is what keeps me inspired and focussed on growing. Just, thank you. 

What next?

There needs to be a better starting point available for anyone interested in learning more about the trombone players that have shaped us. I hope that sharing this offers a helpful look at those who have had an impact.

This exercise has reminded me to keep my horizons wide and of the importance of conversation. There is more to do; a look at influence vs notability and where these cross over. There are our global, historical and cultural influences to be explored too. Stay tuned, and please – let’s talk.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with this conversation, you have taught me a lot and I think we have made a list that is much more useful than what Google has ever had to offer on this subject…

The List

  • Abbie Conant
  • Al Grey
  • Alain Trudel
  • Albert Mangelsdorff
  • Albert Thompson
  • Aline Nistad
  • Alistair White
  • Alwyn Green
  • Andrew Williams
  • Andy Flaxman
  • Andy Wood
  • Arthur Pryor
  • Arthur Wilson
  • Barnaby Dickinson
  • Ben van Dijk
  • Benny Sluchin
  • ‘Big’ Jim Paterson
  • Bill Reichenbach
  • Bill Watrous
  • Bob Hughes
  • Carl Fontana
  • Carol Jarvis
  • Charlie Vernon
  • Chris Thomas
  • Christian Jones
  • Christian Lindberg
  • Christopher Mowat
  • Cliff Willard
  • Curtis Fuller
  • Dave Vines
  • David Waters
  • Delfeayo Marsalis
  • Denis Wick
  • Dick Nash
  • Don Drummond
  • Don Lusher
  • Dudley Bright
  • Elliot Mason
  • Emily White
  • Emory Remington
  • Eric Crees
  • Frank Mathison
  • Frank Rosolino
  • Fred Wesley
  • George Roberts
  • Glenn Dodson
  • Gordon Campbell
  • Gordon Graham
  • Graham Lee
  • Håkan Björkman
  • Helen Vollam
  • Ian Bousfield
  • Ian Davies
  • Ingemar Roos
  • J.J. Johnson
  • Jack Teagarden
  • Jay Friedman
  • JC Higginbotham
  • Jim Markey
  • Jimmy Panckow
  • John Allred
  • John Berry
  • John Iveson
  • John Marcellus
  • Jordan Murray
  • Jörgen van Rijen
  • Joseph Alessi
  • Karen Ballard
  • Katy Jones
  • Keith McNicoll
  • Kevin Price
  • Les Storey
  • Lindsay Shilling
  • Maisie Ringham Wiggins MBE
  • Mark Bassey
  • Mark Nightingale
  • Mark Templeton
  • Marshall Gilkes
  • Matt Gee
  • Melba Liston
  • Michael Dease
  • Mike Hext
  • Pete Vivona
  • Peter Moore
  • Peter Steiner
  • Ray Anderson
  • Ray Premru
  • Richard Edwards
  • Rick Taylor
  • Rico Rodriguez
  • Roger Argente
  • Roger Harvey
  • Roy Williams
  • Shannon Barnett
  • Simon Wills
  • Stefan Schulz
  • Stuart Dempster
  • Sue Addison
  • Tim Low
  • Tim Smart
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Trevor Mires
  • Troy Andrews (Trombone Shorty)
  • Urbie Green
  • Wim Becu
  • Wycliffe Gordon
  • Zoltan Kiss

Who are your Top 5 most influential trombone players, and why?

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