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A Musical Analysis of the Improvisational Style of Tommy Turrentine

Jesse N McBee, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Tommy Turrentine was a jazz trumpet player active in both Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York City. While he is highly respected among jazz musicians, particular those who developed a personal relationship with him in New York City, he seems to have been overshadowed by many of his contemporaries. Additionally, he has a limited discography, with only one recording as a leader. Despite this, he performed with numerous notable musicians throughout his career, including Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Abbey Lincoln, Stanley Turrentine, and Max Roach. These collaborations solidify his role as a significant musician in the lineage of jazz trumpeters. This research analyzes his improvised solos to assess what characteristics left such an impression on those who were familiar with Turrentine’s work, as well as establish a base for future scholarly writings on his work and life. While extensive biographical research is beyond the scope of this document, interviews with those who were mentored by Turrentine were conducted and included, as his role as a mentor to younger musicians is a significant component of his contributions to the music. The musical analyses were limited to solos from his only album as a leader, the self-titled Tommy Turrentine, both for consistency regarding recording dates, as well as an acknowledgement that Turrentine would be unlikely to release work under his own name that he did not find to be representative of his musical voice at that point in time. The culmination of this research demonstrates Turrentine’s significance as a jazz artist, as well as offers some insight as to why he never achieved the critical acclaim of many of his contemporaries.

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Recommended Citation

McBee, Jesse N, "A Musical Analysis of the Improvisational Style of Tommy Turrentine" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10272029.