Jazz trombonists often play small bore trombones because these instruments produce a brighter and more focused sound that is well-suited to the demands of jazz music. The smaller bore of these trombones allows for faster response and greater agility in playing, which is essential in jazz improvisation where the player must be able to quickly move between notes and execute complex melodic ideas. Additionally, the smaller bore of the trombone allows for greater control over the instrument, allowing the player to shape and manipulate their sound with more precision.
According to a study by the International Trombone Association, small bore trombones have a bore size of .480 to .508 inches, while large bore trombones have a bore size of .525 to .547 inches. This difference in bore size may seem small, but it has a significant impact on the sound and playability of the instrument. The smaller bore of the trombone produces a brighter and more focused sound, while the larger bore produces a darker and more expansive sound.
Another reason why jazz trombonists prefer small bore trombones is that these instruments are more versatile and can be used in a wider range of musical settings. While large bore trombones are often used in orchestral and classical music, small bore trombones are well-suited to jazz, pop, and commercial music. The smaller size of these instruments also makes them more portable, allowing musicians to easily transport them to gigs and performances.
One source that supports this perspective is an article by JazzTimes, which notes that many of the greatest jazz trombonists in history, such as J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino, and Carl Fontana, played small bore trombones. These musicians were known for their virtuosic playing and mastery of the instrument, and their use of small bore trombones helped them achieve the bright and focused sound that is characteristic of jazz trombone playing.
In conclusion, jazz trombonists often prefer small bore trombones because of their brighter and more focused sound, greater agility and control, versatility, and portability. While large bore trombones have their place in classical and orchestral music, small bore trombones are the instrument of choice for jazz musicians who demand speed, precision, and versatility in their playing.