We learned today that trombonist Urbie Green died last Monday, December 31, in the Poconos mountain region that he called home for many years. He was 92. A musician idolized by his contemporaries—and particularly by fellow players of the trombone—Green’s earliest big band years included stretches with Frankie Carle and Gene Krupa. His work with Woody Herman in the early 1950s brought him widespread attention and frequent mention in jazz polls and surveys. Green was a member of the all-star band that played at the White House at an elaborate party that President Richard Nixon gave Duke Ellington in 1969 on Ellington’s 70th birthday. Much of the music that night was captured for Blue Note Records. Ufortunately, someone–presumably Blue Note–has blocked us from embedding videos containing that performance and others. We see Green on the right above, on that occasion with fellow trombonist J.J. Johnson. To hear them collaborating—raucously—on a solo in Gerry Mulligan’s vigorous arrangement of Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss,” click here
Green solos at that White House occasion on another Ellington standard, “I Got It Bad.” Click here for the audio.
Urbie Green—reminding us why he continues to inspire trombonists around the world, and is likely to do so for decades. RIP.