Podcast 576: A Conversation with John Yao

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I’ve pointed out before that we may be living through a golden age for trombone players in the world of jazz. Over the past few years rising stars like Ryan Keberle, Joel Yennior, Charlie Halloran and Michael Dease have joined the ranks of talents like Wycliffe Gordon, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre and the legendary Roswell Rudd. These guys lead bands, not just hold down a chair in a big band horn section.

Add another name to their ranks – John Yao.

His latest small-group CD, Presence, is aptly titled, as he makes his presence felt right from the get-go, leading his quintet through a number of jazz styles and approaches. Boosted by saxophonist Jon Irabagon, the group tackles Yao compositions that vary from the avant-garde leaning “M Howard” to the straight ahead “Bouncey’s Bounce,” with fine results. Ably assisted by a rhythm section of Randy Ingram (Piano), Peter Brendler (Bass) and Shawn Baltazor (Drums), Yao’s trombone step out in front, but just as often finds a place in the band’s mix, creating a most enjoyable CD.

Podcast 576 is my conversation with John, as we discuss the new CD, his larger “17 piece instrument”, and his place in such institutions as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Musical selections include “Tight Rope”, “Fuzzy Logic”, and “Bouncey’s Bounce.”

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