If I were a musician blessed with talent and the motivation required to fully develop it, then I would be faced with an infinite number of choices upon entering the recording studio. Able to play almost anything, what would I choose? Luckily, being in a group with Ray Brown, Jeff Hamilton and Larry Fuller would simplify matters considerably. I would be required to play bebop and blues, and swing my butt off in the process.
Such a scenario is fun to dream about, but Easy Walker, pianist Larry Fuller’s first CD as a leader, is the real deal. Recorded in ’98 with Brown and Hamilton, it features ten tunes, including two Fuller originals (“In Like Flynn” and “Candy’s Blues”) that showcase the Seattle-area pianist’s incredible facility and uncanny sense of swing.
Larry Fuller was the last pianist to play with Ray Brown, and it’s easy to imagine this recording as his fond farewell to the late, great bassist. Many of the arrangements are vintage Ray, and a few of the composers, including Billy Taylor and Milt Jackson, were his friends and contemporaries. However, farewell or not, the fact is that no one enjoyed working with Ray Brown more than Larry, who told me in 2000, “It’s a dream to play with Ray.” You can hear it in the music.