The question of who was the best jazz trombonist is a complex one, as there have been many greats throughout the history of jazz. To begin to answer this question, we must first define what we mean by "best." Do we mean the most technically proficient? The most influential? The most successful? Each of these criteria could lead to a different answer, so we must be careful in our analysis.
One name that often comes up in discussions of the best jazz trombonists is J.J. Johnson. Johnson was born in Indianapolis in 1924 and began playing the trombone at a young age. He quickly became known for his virtuosic technique and his ability to improvise in a variety of styles. He played with many of the greats of jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker. Johnson was also known for his innovative use of the trombone, incorporating techniques such as bebop-style runs and double-time playing into his solos.
Another name that is often mentioned in discussions of the best jazz trombonists is Tommy Dorsey. Dorsey was born in Pennsylvania in 1905 and began playing the trombone as a teenager. He quickly became known for his smooth, lyrical playing style, which earned him the nickname "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing." Dorsey was also known for his technical proficiency, and his solos often featured complex runs and rapid-fire articulation.
A third name that is often cited as one of the best jazz trombonists is Jack Teagarden. Teagarden was born in Texas in 1905 and began playing the trombone as a child. He quickly developed a unique style that blended elements of blues, swing, and Dixieland jazz. Teagarden was also known for his soulful, expressive playing, and his solos often featured intricate melodic lines and inventive harmonies.
It is worth noting that there have been many other great jazz trombonists throughout the history of the genre. Some notable names include Kid Ory, Lawrence Brown, Slide Hampton, and Frank Rosolino. Each of these musicians brought their own unique style and approach to the trombone, and each has left an indelible mark on the history of jazz.
In conclusion, the question of who was the best jazz trombonist is a difficult one to answer definitively. However, by examining the contributions of some of the most influential and innovative trombonists in jazz history, we can begin to get a sense of the qualities that make a great jazz trombonist. Ultimately, the answer to this question may depend on individual taste and preference, but it is clear that the trombone has played an important role in the development and evolution of jazz music over the past century.