Tuné, Steve

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Tuné, Steve

Tuné, Steve, jazz trombonist, conch shell player, composer, arranger; b. Omaha, Nebr., Sept. 12,1948. His parents, of Mexican ancestry, met at a Count Basie dance and are both big band fans. His mother is a pianist and flamenco dancer, originally wanted to play violin but his father suggested a wind instrument. At about nine or ten, he began playing trombone in the school band. Two or three years later he joined a local band for which his older brother played saxophone. Kid Ory was his first big influence—he used to play “Muskrat Ramble” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Then in high school, he received a J.J. Johnson record, and Johnson became his idol. Later on, he was influenced by Coltrane, Ellington, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In 1970 Kirk asked him to sit in during a stint at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop. In the years that followed, he played with Kirk in local appearances, and inspired Turré to take it up the conch shell. He also worked with the Escovedo Brothers, Van Morrison, and Charles Moffett. In 1972, he went on a European tour with Ray Charles (his younger brother, Pete, was Charles’s drummer in the late 1990s). The following year Art Blakey asked him to play with his band. He then worked with Cedar Walton, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orch., and Elvin Jones. In 1980, he began an association with Woody Shaw that through 1987 would yield 12 recordings and gain Turré credibility as a composer. He subsequently worked with Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy (1983-on), Manny O’ Quendo, and his idols Gillespie and Tyner. He was also a member of the band for the television show Saturday Night Livefrom 1988-94. Since 1986 he has led the Shell Choir (a ten-member aggregation of trombone /shell players, percussionists and a keyboardist) and various quartets, quintets, and sextets, at festivals from Monterey to Montreal and Hawaii (August 1995) and club residencies from Sweet Basil in N.Y. (including August 1997) to Yoshi’s in Berkeley. He has composed music for TV commercials and movies, including a film, Anna Oz,by French filmmaker, Eric Rochant. His wife, cellist Akua Dixon, occasionally works with him and is the leader of Quartet Indigo with Regina Carter.


Viewpoint (1987); Fire and Ice (1988); Right There (1991); Sanctified Shells (1992); Rhythm Within (1995); Steve Turre (1997).

—Lewis Porter