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Former Pittsburgh trombonist part of Jazz Appreciation lineup

Patrick Varine
| Friday, March 29, 2013, 11:06 a.m.
Trombonist Emmett Goods will host an April 20 discussion of trombone jazz, focusing on J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.
Submitted photo
Trombonist Emmett Goods will host an April 20 discussion of trombone jazz, focusing on J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.

Beginning next week, the William E. Anderson Library of Penn Hills will host its 12th annual Jazz Appreciation Month, bringing in musicians and guest speakers to show children and adults.

Trombone player Emmett Goods, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, will come to the library April 20 to host a discussion of the trombone's place in jazz music, as it relates to legendary players J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.

Goods is the grandson of Pittsburgh jazz drummer J.C. Moses, and while his grandfather died before he was born, he left a big impression on Goods.

“I don't have any of my own memories, but I treasure the ones I've been told by family and friends,” he said. “Though he was already gone, he was a huge influence on my career choice, as my mom played jazz constantly for me.”

Goods spoke with the Progress recently about his love for jazz and how he hopes to impart it to residents attending the April 20 presentation:

Q: What first got you interested in jazz, and specifically in the trombone?

A: Jazz is the sound track of my life, so I'd be hard pressed to say when I fell in love with it. Though I remember seeing Betty Carter perform at MCG at 10 and it being really great. Trombone also happened by accident at that age as my best friend's father introduced me to it.

Q: Where are you completing your dissertation, and what is the topic?

A: I'm working on my DMA (doctor of musical arts) in trombone performance at West Virginia University. My topic for my dissertation is a comparison of the improvisational styles of Curtis Fuller and Slide Hampton.

Q: The trombone is played very differently than almost every other instrument in the sense that most of your upper body is involved, as opposed to holding the instrument with one hand and pressing keys with the other. Does the additional motion and physicality affect the way you play?

A: Well, the unique way we play isn't supposed to impact what I choose to play during improvisation, but I'm sure it does at a subconscious level. Though I practice every day to break that mold and do what science says I can't.

Q: Who are your musical influences?

A: Art Blakey was a big influence; I loved his band concept and sound and his ability to pick talent. Curtis Fuller, because (when) I heard (him) on John Coltrane's “Blue Train” album, it made me want to do this. Curtis also improvises like no other trombonist and is immediately identifiable. Only Steve Davis, who was my teacher, has anywhere near a style that resembles Curtis'.

Q: What were some of the most important lessons you learned while studying under Jackie McLean at the University of Hartford?

A: Jackie taught us to never stop working on our own voice as a soloist and composer, and to be true to the ancestors and ourselves.

Q: What do you consider to be J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding's main contribution to jazz music?

A: Their contribution was to show the world that two trombones as a front line was viable and musically significant, (and that) trombonists were also excellent arrangers and fiery soloists, which those two gentlemen both were.

Q: What will people attending the April 20 lecture be hearing about?

A: The unique personal histories of both gentlemen and the tremendous importance of their brief periods of collaboration. Plus some of my most favorite music ever recorded.

Q: Your brother Ritchie is also a jazz player, a bassist — was there ever any friendly musical rivalry between the two of you?

A: No rivalry. I'm a good younger brother just trying my best to achieve some of what Richie has in my own career. He did push me, and hard. Still does, and I always play better with him behind me as the bassist.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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