Tommy Turk

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Tommy Turk
Birth name Thomas Eugene Turk
Born 1927
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, US
Died August 4, 1981 (aged 53)
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Trombone

Thomas Eugene "Tommy" Turk (1927 – August 4, 1981) was an American jazz trombonist.

Early life[edit]

Tommy Turk was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1927.[1] His father was a coal miner and self-taught trumpeter.[1] Tommy's elder brother, Rob, was also a trumpeter.[1] Tommy graduated from Conemaugh High School.[1]


In the 1940s Turk became established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of the Deuces Wild quintet.[1] Turk often played for Jazz at the Philharmonic[2] 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,[3] 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".[4] In the 1950s he continued playing with Deuces Wild.[5]

Turk also recorded with Billie Holiday,[6] Ella Fitzgerald and Flip Phillips around the same time.[3] 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.[9] 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."[9] One eyewitness reported that Turk had difficulty lying flat and did not take out his wallet quickly enough for the killer.[10] Four gang members were charged in relation to the killing.[9] The 15-year-old who shot Turk was made eligible for parole in 2005.[10] Turk, who was 53,[11] was survived by his wife and two sons.[1]


As leader[edit]


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


  • "Two By Four" / "Encore" Mercury.[12] Recorded December 1, 1949[13]
  • "Bye Bye Blues" / "The Beat" Mercury. Recorded December 1, 1949[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Leonard, Vince, "Trombonist Turk Slain in Las Vegas" Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, August 6, 1981, p. 6.
  2. ^ "Jazz Festival Slated June 17 & 18". The Oil City Derrick. June 2, 1972. p. 7. Retrieved August 16, 2014 – via  open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b Verve Records Discography 1949
  4. ^ Jazz Records, 1942-1965: A Discography By Jørgen Grunnet Jepsen
  5. ^ Peña, Carlos E., Pittsburgh Jazz Records and Beyond, 1950–1985, Pittsburgh University Master's Thesis at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2007)
  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 c "Tommy Turk Killer Gets Life" (May 14, 1982) The Pittsburgh Press, p. A-7.
  10. ^ a b "After 24 years, Las Vegas murderer has chance for parole" (December 15, 2005) Las Vegas Sun.
  11. ^ "Trombonist Killed During Bar Hold Up". The Daily News. August 6, 1981. p. 2. Retrieved August 16, 2014 – via  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Milsop, Joe (April 20, 1950). "Juke Box Review". The Progress. p. 11. Retrieved August 16, 2014 – via  open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ a b "Tommy Turk Discography". Retrieved August 16, 2014.