372

Curtis Fuller: The Opener

By

Sign in to view read count
Curtis Fuller: The Opener What a rare privilege it is to review a new entry in Blue Note's esteemed RVG reissues series knowing that the featured artist can still be caught at venues around New York City. Such is the case with trombone virtuoso Curtis Fuller, whose 1957 Blue Note debut The Opener has been remastered courtesy of the great Rudy Van Gelder. Although he recorded two sessions for Prestige that predated it, Fuller's Blue Note date hit the shelves first. Therefore its title fits perfectly, making it the world's first, true introduction to Fuller as a leader.

Like so many of his fellow Blue Note all stars, Fuller hails from Detroit. He quickly gained a reputation for being a special talent after long-term gigs with Miles Davis at the Cafe Bohemia as well as with Yusef Lateef's combo, with whom he originally traveled from the Motor City to the Big Apple. Alfred Lion quickly arranged a date for Fuller and a star-studded cast of Blue Note regulars including Hank Mobley (tenor), Bobby Timmons (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). The date resulted in an easy-going, straight-ahead session where it's obvious that Lion didn't want to put too much pressure on the Blue Note rookie with overly challenging arrangements.

Lion did, however, make a brave and ultimately rewarding choice by opening The Opener with a ballad. "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening" is indeed a lovely way to begin the album. The down-tempo swinger allows Fuller to take the lead right away; he states the theme with a cool elegance that cancels any notion the listener might have had that the trombone can't solo with the fluidity of trumpet or sax. The second number is a Fuller composed-blues called "Hugore," but Mobley occupies the spotlight, sounding better than ever.

The set strays from the totally straight-ahead only once, on the Oscar Pettiford-penned "Oscalypso," a medium-tempo, Latin-tinged selection that gets all of the players on the good foot. Fuller gives us one more opportunity to hear the trombone's solo potential on a ballad with the Johnny Mercer tune "Here's To My Lady," which also offers a nice showcase for Timmons. The rest of the program offers more terrific laid-back hard-bop, making one wish that Blue Note would pick up the pace in releasing Fuller's remaining three Blue Note titles, all currently out of print.


Track Listing: A Lovely Way to Spend An Evening; Hugore; Oscarlypso; Here's To My Lady; Lizzy's Bounce; Soon.

Personnel: Curtis Fuller: trombone; Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Art Taylor: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Expansions: The Puzzle" CD/LP/Track Review Expansions: The Puzzle
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 16, 2016
Read "Windows" CD/LP/Track Review Windows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Our Second Set" CD/LP/Track Review Our Second Set
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "Pineapples and Ashtrays" CD/LP/Track Review Pineapples and Ashtrays
by James Nadal
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Live in Seattle" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Seattle
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Arrhythmia" CD/LP/Track Review Arrhythmia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!