Steve Turre (né Stephen Johnson Turre; born September 12, 1948) is an American jazz trombonist, a pioneering musical seashell virtuoso, a composer, arranger, and educator at the collegiate-conservatory level who, for fifty-two years, has been active in ...
Steve Turre (né Stephen Johnson Turre; born September 12, 1948) is an American jazz trombonist, a pioneering musical seashell virtuoso, a composer, arranger, and educator at the collegiate-conservatory level who, for fifty-two years, has been active in jazz, rock, and Latin jazz - in live venues, recording studios, television, and cinema production. As a studio musician, Turre is among the most prolific living jazz trombonist in the world. As a member of a television orchestra, this is Turre's thirty-second year as trombonist with the Saturday Night Live Band.
In 1968, Turre played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk; in 1970 he recorded with Carlos Santana; and in 1972 he toured with Ray Charles. He has been the trombonist for the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and has taught jazz trombone at the Manhattan School of Music since 1988.
For forty-five years (since 1970), Turre has been an exponent of seashells - conch in particular - as serious musical instruments. According to Turre, Kirk encouraged him when he began experimenting. Turre has a collection of shells of various sizes, most of which picked up by him during his travels in the Caribbean and elsewhere. The shells have their mouthpieces carefully cut and are tuned to specific pitches. When playing them as a soloist he frequently switches between shells, as each is limited in its register (the smallest shells, for example, have a practical register of only a fifth). His largest shell, from the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, has a range between the D and E below middle C, and was painted by a Cuban artist. Turre also leads "Sanctified Shells," which is a "shell choir" made up of brass players who double on seashell (using shells from Turre's collection, which he loans out for rehearsals and performances). The group released its first, eponymous album in 1993. Turre has had a long experience with Latin jazz, and is also a skilled player of the cowbell and Venezuelan maracas.
Turre has been a member of the Juilliard faculty for nine years - since 2008, and previously from 2001 to 2003.
Turre earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst through the University Without Walls in 1980 with a focus in Afro-American Music and Jazz.
In 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2006 he won the Down Beat Reader's Poll for best trombonist.
Turre was raised in Lafayette, California (San Francisco Bay area). His father was of Sicilian ancestry and his mother was of Mexican ancestry. He began playing trombone at age ten, during his fourth grade in school. In his early teens, he played in a band with his elder brother, Michael James Turre (born 1946), a saxophonist. Although he entered California State University, Sacramento, on a football scholarship, he studied music theory there for two years before transferring to the University of North Texas College of Music, where he studied from 1968 to 1969 and played in a band led by Hannibal Peterson.
Turre was married to cellist Akua Dixon (born 1948) from 1978 to 2012, with whom he had two children. He was formerly married (1970 in Dallas, Texas) to and divorced (1972 in San Francisco) from Susan J. Beard.
Steve Turre is one of four children born to the marriage of James Boles Turre (1921-1997) and Carmen Marie (née Johnson). His three siblings are (i) Michael James Turre (1946), (ii) Michele Anita Turre (born 1953), and (iii) Peter Joseph Turre (born 1957). Michael and Peter are musicians - saxophone-woodwinds and drums, respectively.