This sequence is a tribute to James Pankow, one of the greatest trombonists of all time, and the title of the source song fits my life as the parent of a newborn.
What does it mean to be the greatest of all time at something? In sports, the title of the greatest usually goes to the person with the most championships or individual records. In music, and especially the trombone world, the title is more a matter of preference.
Do we ask who can make the hardest stuff sound he easiest (Mastery)? Who has inspired the most people to start playing that instrument (Impact)? Who has been heard by the most people (Reach)? Who has made the most money performing (Payoff)?
These questions have different answers, but no matter how you decide who the greatest trombonist is, you have to consider James Pankow.
As trombonist, composer and arranger for the band Chicago, Pankow has been making albums since 1967. Chicago has sold over 100 million albums and is one of the best-selling music groups of all time.
He is a remarkable improviser and technician (mastery), has had a huge impact on later generations of trombonists, has been heard by millions of people, and is most likely made more money than all other trombonists put together.
This sequence is based on the short trombone cadenza that ends the hit tune, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, off of Chicago’s first album, Chicago Transit Authority.
There is no pulse driving you forward, so take your time and enjoy every note. This lick was probably improvised, and so fill your sound with commitment and purpose so that a listener will BELIEVE what you are saying. Pankow uses his slide to add style with scoops and vibrato. Take some liberties, make it yours, have fun.
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