6 Best Black Trombone Players You Should Know

black trombone players
Written by Corey Morgan

Here is a list of the Best black trombone players:

  1. J. Johnson
  2. Slide Hampton
  3. Wycliffe Gordon
  4. Curtis Fuller
  5. Delfeayo Marsalis
  6. Fred Wesley

There are many talented black trombone players out there, but only a select few make it into the history books. In this blog post, we will be discussing 6 of the most accomplished and well-known black trombone players who have made a name for themselves in the music world. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, these musicians will inspire you to reach new heights with your playing!

  1. J. Johnson

One of the most influential black trombonists in history is J.J. Johnson. He was born in 1924 and started playing the trombone at a young age. He quickly became one of the most sought-after jazz musicians in the world, and played with some of the biggest names in the industry. He is considered to be one of the fathers of modern jazz, and has inspired countless other musicians over the years.

J. Johnson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 22nd 1924. His father died when he was just one-year-old so his mother moved them to Detroit where she worked at an auto factory during the great depression era. He started playing trombone at age ten after seeing Louis Armstrong perform live for the first time, which inspired him to dedicate himself fully towards becoming a professional musician like his idol Lousi Armstrong!

In August 1941 Johnson joined Earl Hines’s band and stayed there through 1942-43 before leaving again due to contractual issues with Blue Note Records over royalties owed by earl hine’s bandmates who had recently signed their own deal with another label (they did not want to share the royalties with JJ).

In 1944, Johnson signed with Decca Records as a leader and released his debut album “The Eminent J.J. Johnson” which was critically acclaimed and set the tone for all future releases to come. After that he went on to record over 60 albums in his lifetime! He toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas playing at some of the most prestigious venues and clubs in history.

Fellow trombonist Slide Hampton once said of JJ, “He’s the only one who ever played like a horn. He didn’t play like a trombone; he played like a trumpet or saxophone.”

JJ Johnson was known for his lyrical and melodic playing style which often incorporated advanced harmonies and dissonances. His influence on jazz music is undeniable, and he is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of the genre. He passed away in Los Angeles, CA on February 4th 2001 at age 77. There is no doubt that J.J. Johnson will forever be remembered as one of the greatest black trombonists of all time!

  1. Slide Hampton

Slide Hampton is a jazz trombonist, arranger, and composer who has played music for over 60 years. He started playing the trombone when he was in middle school and hasn’t stopped since. He has also released over 30 albums as a bandleader. Hampton is a master of the trombone and is known for his unique sound and improvisational skills. He is a true icon of jazz and one of the most respected musicians in the industry.

Some of Slide’s most notable contributions to the jazz community have come as a composer. He wrote “A Night in Tunisia,” one of the most popular jazz standards of all time, and has written music for Broadway plays such as Tío Pepe.

In 2013, Slide was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship- one of the most prestigious awards in jazz music. This award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of jazz music and its culture.

If you’re a fan of jazz trombone, be sure to check out Slide Hampton’s music. You won’t be disappointed.

  1. Wycliffe Gordon

best black trombone players


Wycliffe Gordon is a world-renowned trombonist who has played with some of the biggest names in jazz. He is also a highly sought-after teacher, having taught at prestigious music schools around the world. In addition to his work as a performer and educator, Wycliffe is also a prolific composer, having written over 200 pieces of music.

Wycliffe Gordon grew up in Waynesboro, Georgia, and began playing trombone when he was nine years old. He continued to study music throughout his high school career and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University.

After graduating from college, Wycliffe spent several years as a member of the US Navy Band before moving on to play with Dizzy Gillespie for two years. In the early 1990s Wycliffe moved back home to Georgia where he continues to live today.

Since then, Wycliffe has become one of the most sought after jazz trombonists in the world having recorded over 200 different albums for many major labels including Blue Note Records, RCA Victor Records Verve Records and Decca Records, as well as many smaller independent labels.

Wycliffe Gordon was featured in the documentary film “Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2011

Wycliffe Gordon is currently a member of several bands including his own quintet, an all-star ensemble called Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) led by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis who he frequently performs alongside during concerts around New York City area. His most recent album titled “The Search for Peace” was released in 2016 on Blue Note Records.

Wycliffe Gordon is also known for his humanitarian work, which includes founding The Wycliffe Gordon Foundation to help underprivileged children receive music education and other arts related opportunities such as performing at Carnegie Hall! He has been recognized countless times by various organizations including the NAACP Image Awards, Grammys Award Show (for Best Traditional Album), BET Jazz Centric Musicianship Award from Black Entertainment Television Network among many others.

The Wycliffe Gordon Foundation is dedicated to improving lives through music education and performance opportunities. The foundation provides grants for low-income students who need financial assistance with their school expenses, as well as providing scholarships so that these same children may receive private lessons on instruments such as the trombone or tuba. These funds help ensure access not only musically talented individuals but all people regardless of race gender identity sexuality socioeconomic status etcetera–so everyone has equal opportunity pursue dreams!

Wycliffe says “I see myself as both a teacher and student because I’m always learning new things about my craft everyday whether it be from playing gigs around town practicing at home reading books which relate directly to my music studies or having conversations with other musicians whom I admire greatly.”

  1. Curtis Fuller

Curtis Fuller is one of the most renowned black trombone players in history. He began playing the instrument at a young age and quickly rose to prominence, becoming a member of several high-profile bands in the 1950s.

As one of the first black musicians to achieve success playing trombone professionally, he helped pave the way for future generations of players who followed in his footsteps.

A protégé of the great Dizzy Gillespie, Curtis Fuller was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1932. He began playing the trombone at the age of eleven and soon showed a remarkable talent for the instrument. In the 1950s, he was a founding member of two seminal jazz groups: The Jazztet and The Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Both ensembles were highly influential in the development of modern jazz music.

Throughout his career, Mr. Fuller has received several awards and honors for his contributions to jazz music, including being inducted into the International Trombone Hall of Fame. In addition to playing trombone professionally, he has served as an educator at numerous universities across America and abroad; most recently teaching classes on African American history at Indiana State University’s School of Music.

Curtis Fuller is one of the most important black trombone players in history. His contribution to music has been significant, not just for jazz but also for African-Americans as a whole. Throughout his career, he has played with some of the best musicians from all over the world and has had an enormous impact on modern jazz.

  1. Delfeayo Marsalis

black trombone players


Delfeayo Marsalis is one of the most versatile and successful trombonists of his generation. He has worked in a wide variety of genres, including jazz, classical, blues, and soul.

Delfeayo was born in New Orleans in 1965. He began playing the trombone at age 8 and was soon appearing with his father’s band. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and later at Rutgers University. In 1988, he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition-the most prestigious award in jazz.

He is currently the artistic director of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans. In addition to his work as a musician, Delfeayo is also a noted educator, having taught at Rutgers, the Manhattan School of Music, and Tulane University. He is also a proud father of four daughters and one son.

Delfeayo Marsalis has been called “the most important jazz trombonist to emerge in the ’80s” by The New York Times

  1. Fred Wesley

black trombone players


Fred Wesley is one of the most famous and influential black trombone players of all time. He is known for his skillful playing and innovative style, and has helped to shape the sound of modern funk music.

Fred Wesley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 27th, 1941. He grew up listening to jazz and blues music. His father was a professional musician who played saxophone in several different bands during his career. Fred began playing the trombone when he was 11 years old after receiving an instrument as a gift from his mother for Christmas.

He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1963. After college, he moved to New York City and started playing with some of the biggest names in jazz music. In 1965, he joined James Brown’s band, The JBs, and played on many of Brown’s hit recordings, including “Mother Popcorn” and “Cold Sweat.”

In 1972, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to join George Clinton’s Funkadelic band. He played on many of their biggest hits, including “One Nation Under a Groove,” and helped shape the sound of funk music throughout the 1970s. In 1976, he left Funkadelic and started his own band, The Fred Wesley Group. He continued to play music throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and has released several solo albums over the years.

Fred Wesley is a highly skilled trombone player with a unique style that has influenced many of the biggest names in funk music. He is one of the most famous and influential black trombone players of all time.


While there are many black trombone players who have made a significant impact in the music world, these six stand out as some of the most influential and talented. From classical to jazz and everything in between, these musicians have inspired others with their skill on the trombone and their dedication to music. Who is your favorite black trombonist?