I have to smile when I think about how the GMC has evolved over its six years of existence. My main intent has always been to combine nostalgia and music in one way or another, and that’s still pretty much the bottom line, but a few things have changed along the way. For one thing, I stopped doing new album reviews quite a while back for a number of reasons. I’ve also gradually moved away from doing pieces on big stars because I figure most people already know a lot about them. Instead, I try to focus on lesser-known and/or forgotten performers. Which brings us to Cyril James Touff, who was not exactly a household name when he died a decade ago, but his mastery of the bass trumpet should earn him another look and listen.
Cy Touff was a Chicago native who became known as a proponent of West Coast jazz, but actually spent most of his performing life working in and around his home city. While growing up he’d worked his way through several instruments, including piano and saxophone, and had even taken up the trombone during his World War II service, but by the time he began to appear professionally he’d settled on the bass trumpet.
It turned out to be a good idea, and he was soon working with some of the best musicians in the business as a valued part of several outfits. He spent several years playing in Woody Herman’s band, even led his own groups at times, and also collaborated with guys like Chubby Jackson and Sandy Mosse, making a number solid jazz records. By the time he died at age 75 in 2003 he was long retired, but could look back on a satisfying career.