Jazz Birthdays: Trombonists Juan and J. J. | January 22, 2013


Juan Tizol
credit: Maria Tizol

Juan Tizol  1900-1984

Juan Tizol was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States in 1920 with a South American orchestra. He joined Duke Ellington in 1929 and stayed with him for the most part through 1961.  Ellington was attracted to Tizol’s use of the valve trombone, which enabled him to handle more intervals more easily than a slide.   Tizol was a gifted composer who penned such classics as “Caravan” and “Perdido” and was the wizard who helped Ellington write all the parts for the orchestra.


J. J. Johnson

J. J. Johnson  1924-2011

One of the first trombonists to play be-bop, his speed and facility convinced some listeners that he was playing valve trombone instead of slide trombone.  Johnson is best known for the quintet he formed with fellow trombonist Kai Winding in the 1950s, which only existed for two years, but had lasting effects on jazz and trombone players.

“Sometimes you need to stand with your nose to the window and have a good look at jazz. And I’ve done that on many occasions.”  –J. J. Johnson


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