Grachan Moncur III, trombonist whose star briefly shone, dies at 85

What could have been a longer relationship with Blue Note ended after two albums in a publishing rights dispute. Ultimately, he was able to retain his rights to the music for “Evolution”, but he felt he wouldn’t stay on the label for long.

“They were very disappointed with that, and they kind of let me down like a hot potato,” Mr. Moncur told All About Jazz. He thought he had been blackballed on his position – a position he later regretted. In retrospect, he says, he wished he had found a way to compromise with Alfred Lion, the founder of Blue Note.

“I think my mind was really going towards a revolutionary attitude more on a business trip than on a music trip,” he said, “because I was kind of determined to try to own my own music.”

Grachan Moncur III was born on June 3, 1937 in Manhattan. His father, Grachan II, played bass with the Savoy Sultans, a swing ensemble, at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Her mother, Ella (Wright) Moncur, was a beautician whose clients — and friends — included singer Sarah Vaughan.

A trombone lover from the age of 5, Grachan nevertheless received a cello from his father. But the cello did not inspire him, so his father gave him a trombone. Classes followed. He also had a role model for the trombone: his father, who played the instrument.

“I have never, until today, heard anyone with a sound like my father, Mr. Moncur told All About Jazz. “He had a very dark and light timbre. That sound, it kind of stayed with me, and I always wanted to produce that same type of – project the same type of sound that my dad had.

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