Trombonist Sarah Morrow has undoubtedly etched her name in jazz music’s canon. Aside from her prowess as a trombonist, Morrow is also renowned for her jazz composition skills. Her compositions fuse elements of jazz, funk, and even hip hop. Her distinct and original style has made her one of the preeminent jazz musicians of her era and a mainstay at jazz festivals worldwide.
Born in Houston and raised in Pickeringtion, Ohio, Sarah Morrow began playing the clarinet at a very tender age. She was only 12 years old when she decided to trade in her clarinet for the trombone. In an interview that she gave in France, she stated that she felt like the trombone chose her. Morrow was 17 when she saw the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and fell in love with jazz music. She would continue to play and master the art while attending college at the University of Ohio.
Upon her graduation from college, Sarah Morrow began playing with small jazz ensembles. It was a two day gig that she landed with the Dayton Philharmonic that changed the young trombonists life forever. The guest artist of the Dayton Philharmonic for that two day concert series was none other than the great Ray Charles. After the concert, Morrow sought out Charles’ manager with the hopes of landing an audition with Charles’ own orchestra.
In a 2009 interview, Sarah Morrow recalled being turned down by the manager, that is until she told him that she was the one who had played lead trombone that night. The manager told her that Ray had wondered who that guy playing the trombone was. Morrow confesses that “They weren’t expecting a young…white girl.” Two days later, trombonist Sarah Morrow was in L.A. with Charles as the first female instrumentalist to ever play in his orchestra. Two decades later, Morrow is widely regarded as one of the the foremost trombonists of her era, and the jazz world is eternally grateful that Ray Charles found out that the guy who played lead trombone with the Dayton Philharmonic was a young white girl named Sarah Morrow.