The title song and two-disc set are dedicated to a true love, but the music is clearly for the audience. I Will Tell Her
, by trombonist Curtis Fuller, achieves plenty.
The title song was written for Fuller's wife of 30 years, Cathy, who died before getting a chance to hear the music. The artist explains that she was a source of inspiration. That love comes through clearly in the 14 trackseight recorded in studio and six during a performance at Dazzle, a jazz club in Denver.
"Minor's Holiday," one of four songs that appear in both sets, has a small, big-band feel. As a unit, the three horns sound like a fuller section. After the opening sequence, Chip Stephens
solos over bass and drums. Alan Hood
performs a free-spirited solo, followed by Keith Oxman
"Maze" has a cool backbeat, with plenty of action by Stephens, Ken Walker
and Todd Reid. Oxman is out front much of the time, putting the tenor through some throaty grinds and high-pitch squeals. At times, there is the twang of the bass strings. For the live version, the band nearly doubles the length of "The Court." Fuller leads, with Hood and Oxman answering his calls. The muted trombone has a wah-wah feel. Hood and Stephens stretch out on solos.
The live version of "Maze" doesn't stand out much, relative to the studio recording. It's like listening to live and studio versions of Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" on the same CD. When the session recording is of exceptional quality, there's not much to ask for in the live version. Yet, Fuller's bandlike Hubbard'sdoes provide something extra. Solos are longer and mood changes are a little more distinct. Also, Hood delivers a Hubbard-like solo, making the trumpet bounce and snap back during some phrases.
Combined, the two discs of I Will Tell Her
run just short of two hours. Pairing a studio session with a concert gives a strong sense of how well this band interacts.
CD1: Time Off; Sagittarius; Minor's Holiday; I Will Tell Her; Maze; The Court; Alamode; The Clan; CD2: Tenor Madness; The Court; I Will Tell Her; Maze; I Want to Talk About You; Minor's Holiday.
Curtis Fuller: trombone; Keith Oxman: tenor sax; Al Hood: trumpet; Chip Stephens: piano; Ken Walker: bass; Todd Reid: drums.