It’s rare in Jazz music to see a trombone player in the role of band leader. Some of the greatest and most remembered names in Jazz among the vast majority of Americans include: Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk. None of those players ever once led a band with trombone in hand.
While there are notable Jazz greats who played the slide trombone while commanding a room and conducting a band, it still remains common place to have a trumpet be the focal point. Big Sam leads on trombone.
Big Sam was always a big boy. In the 6th grade, he was 6 foot tall and 200 pounds while playing little league basketball. When the time came that he grew out of playing the sport – literally – Sam approached his school’s band leader and asked him what instrument they needed someone to play.
Sam’s band leader replied, “The trombone.”
“What’s that?” Sam said. That’s all it took to hook him.