Tak Takvorian Pt 2: Thornhill, Dorsey, Pomeroy
Part 1 of this post covered Tak Takvorian’s years in the wartime navy bands of Artie Shaw and Sam Donahue. Part 2 continues the story from the time of his 1946 discharge. Read Part 1 here.
On a Modern Kick with Thornhill and Evans
“I came back home to Boston, but I didn’t stay long. Sam Donahue organized a new band in March and I went out again. It was a tough time to start a new band, though. Then I had a chance to go with Claude Thornhill in June of 1946.” Tak replaced Tasso Harris, his section mate from the navy band.
“That was a good band, too, with Red Rodney, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, and Barry Galbraith. Ted Goddard, also from around Boston (Medford), was playing alto when I joined. Gil Evans was writing and arranging. We did quite a bit of recording, things like “Robbin’s Nest,” “Snowfall,” and “La Paloma.” A few of Gil’s arrangements where I had solos were “Donna Lee” and “Anthropology.”
Thornhill and Evans knew what they were getting when Takvorian joined the band—a versatile anchor to the trombone section who could play with Dorsey-like smoothness on the dance tunes, and Dickie Wells-like flamboyance on the jazz tunes. Evans, the master colorist, had those dreamy clarinets and French horns to work with, but he wanted the excitement of deeper colors, too. A Metronome magazine reviewer in December 1946 said as much shortly after Tak’s arrival, noting “Tak Takvorian’s bruising trombone has added punch to the band.”
Here’s Gil’s arrangement of “Donna Lee,” with a brief Tak Takvorian solo. You’ll never mistake him for J.J. Johnson, but Tak was moving into modern jazz, and bringing his Dickie Wells sensibilities with him.
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