Al Grey Meets the Trudell Big Band Over Some Basie Charts


Al Grey, one of the greatest trombonists to play with the Count Basie band, visited Clarenceville High School on March 28 together with Johnny Trudell's crack big band to pay tribute to his former band. It was a pleasure to hear the master trombonist play and reminisce about his Basie heritage and the Trudell band was well prepared for the night. Grey sat in front of the band and sometimes seemed to direct it, even though I suspect that was mainly for show. His trombone playing is still very spirited, in contrast to his somewhat frail appearance these days. I remember him from the late fifties when he was a powerhouse on his instrument as well as a stage personality. His solos on two vocal numbers by Detroit's own Harvey Thompson, "Moonlight in Vermont" and "Every Day," were some of his best of the night. 

The Trudell big band sections all sounded good and the trumpet section was a real showstopper, which was to be expected with the leader and Bob Mohica leading the attack. Trudell soloed nicely on "Corner Pocket," and Mohica crackled on "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" and "This Love of Mine." George Benson contributed some nice tenor work and Jeff Trudell did a great job in the difficult role of swinging a big band from the drums. 

A nice feature of this concert series is the opportunity for high school bands to play in front of a large audience. The Northville High School Jazz Band sounded better rehearsed than many bands at that level. Midge Ellis should be commended for putting on a fine series.

photograph by Lars Bjorn