Tommy Turk

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Tommy Turk
Birth name Thomas Eugene Turk
Born 1927
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Died August 4, 1981
Las Vegas, Nevada
Genres Jazz
Occupations Musician
Instruments Trombone

Thomas Eugene "Tommy" Turk (1927 – August 4, 1981[1]) was a jazz trombonist from Conemaugh, Cambria County,[2] Johnstown, Pennsylvania.[3]

Early life[edit]

Tommy Turk was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1927.[2] His father was a coal miner and self-taught trumpeter.[2] Tommy's elder brother, Rob, was also a trumpeter.[2] Tommy graduated from Conemaugh High School.[2]


In the 1940s Turk became established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of the Deuces Wild quintet.[2] Turk did notable playing for Jazz at the Philharmonic and can be heard on several CDs with Charlie Parker. In 1949 he was a member of Flip Phillips and His Orchestra, together with John D'Agostino, Buddy Morrow, Kai Winding, Sonny Criss, Mickey Crane, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne,[4] and on December 1, 1949, he led a group including Ray Brown and Buddy Rich that recorded four tunes under the name "Tommy Turk and His Orchestra".[5] In the 1950s he was a member of Deuces Wild, a popular Pittsburgh jazz band.[3]

He also recorded with Billie Holiday,[6] Ella Fitzgerald and Flip Phillips around the same time.[4] For many years Turk led a quartet that played at the Point View Hotel in Brentwood, Pennsylvania.[7] In 1972 he performed at the Pittsburgh jazz festival with a band led by Roy Eldridge.[8]


Many years later, Turk was living and performing in Las Vegas. On August 4, 1981, he was fatally shot by robbers at a tavern in that city.[1] The Pittsburgh Press reported that Turk was "shot in the head for no apparent reason as he and other patrons lay on the floor of a tavern liquor store during a holdup."[1] One eyewitness reported that Turk had difficulty lying flat and did not take out his wallet quickly enough for the killer.[9] Four gang members were charged in relation to the killing.[1] The 15-year-old who shot Turk was made eligible for parole in 2005.[9] Turk was survived by his wife and two sons.[2]


As leader[edit]

  • The-Truth!!! Asterik. Recorded in concert, June 23, 1977


  1. ^ a b c d "Tommy Turk Killer Gets Life" (May 14, 1982) The Pittsburgh Press, p. A-7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Leonard, Vince (August 6, 1981) "Trombonist Turk Slain in Las Vaegas" Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, p. 6.
  3. ^ a b Pittsburgh University Master's Thesis at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2007)
  4. ^ a b Verve Records Discography 1949
  5. ^ Jazz Records, 1942-1965: A Discography By Jørgen Grunnet Jepsen
  6. ^ Lady Sings the Blues at
  7. ^ Frushell, Richard (December 12, 2010) "The Next Page / An Upright City: Pittsburgh and the jazz bass" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  8. ^ Garland, Hazel (June 24, 1972) "Jazz Festival Was Great But Attendance Could Be Better" Pittsburgh Courier, p. 16.
  9. ^ a b "After 24 years, Las Vegas murderer has chance for parole" (December 15, 2005) Las Vegas Sun.