Selection : The Clan
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Curtis Fuller (trombone) Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone) Cedar Walton (piano) Jymie Merritt (bass) Jimmy Cobb or GT Hogan (drums) recorded Capitol Studios, NYC, November 16 – 17, 1961, engineer: Frank Abbey.
Curtis Fuller pocket-bio
Fuller’s career was nothing less than meteoric. Eight months after arriving in New York, age 22, he had made six albums as leader and appeared on fifteen others, including the thrilling trombone voice on Coltrane’s Blue Train . Think of those iconic opening notes – da da did da daaa, da doo di da doo… Impressive for a newly arrived trombonist, a product of raw talent and natural selection in the fiercely competitive New York jazz scene of the late Fifties.
“Curtis Fuller belongs to a select circle … who make the trombone sound fluid and inviting rather than awkward. His ability to make wide-octave leaps and play whiplash phrases in a relaxed, casual manner is a testament to his skill”. (Fuller’s Blue Note artist profile)
In 1960 Fuller was drafted into The Jazztet with Art Farmer but left shortly after and in 1961, added the first trombone to the line up of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with whom he stayed until 1965. The second half of the decade was spent freelancing around New York, adding his trombone to a number of notable Blue Note dates including Joe Henderson’s Mode For Joe and Wayne Shorter’s Schizophrenia.
Fuller eventually found a secure tenure in music education, and was on the ” still living list” last time I looked.
What does Soul Trombone presage? (bloggers literary tip: presage: an ill-omen, intuition, an ominous warning of a future occurrence) “Soul” has changed meaning a lot over recent decades: Soul Music, sequestered by Motown formation-divas and grossly obese vocalists called Barry declaring their lurve; Soul-Jazz, funky hipsters dance vibe involving frequent use of an organ, and of course Soul Food – good ol’ Southern cooking, making copious use of artery-endangering lard.
Set aside any misgivings about Death by Trombone , as in Jimmy Smith – Death by Hammond B-3 Organ – though Fuller appears on one of Smith’s (few) outstanding recordings, The Sermon. Soul Trombone is a pure classic bop sextet session. Freddie Hubbard and Jimmy Heath in the front line, superb rhythm section – it is effectively a Blue Note session, but for the up and coming new label, Impulse.
As well as being an outstanding fluent soloist in his own right, Fuller’s strength is as bop-team player, enriching the brass front line, adding weight, texture and detail. His Blue Note albums are all classic pairings, with baritone sax in Bones and Bari (Tate Houston), The Opener (with Hank Mobley) and Volume 3 (with Art Farmer). Great thing with Fuller is you don’t have to be a “trombone fan” as you need to be with some of the players: It’s just the big brother of the trumpet, and the Jazz Clan are a fine bop sextet.
An Amazon Reviewer,commenting on the CD, nominally, added:
“Why my fuss about the A-13 catalog number? This was one of the first released on the amazing black and orange, probably 1961, as this numbering system was only used the first few years of the label. I found it on wax yesterday and it sits on my shelf, spine strong as iron and gloss intact. Hats off to the golden age of vinyl.”
Yeah!! That’s what I like. Stick it to ’em where they least expect it: Evil Silver Disk 0, Vinyl +1.
Vinyl: Impulse A-13
US original Am Par label 1st pressing, RVG stamp, mono, 162gm vinyl, not for the fastidious collector (GTPOL – greasy thumbprint on label)
The back cover of Impulse gatefolds always seem to me a lost opportunity.
LJC Poll – Your Ten Favourite Trombone players
Hot on the heels of the recent piano poll, seems like an opportunity to slide in a poll on the trombone. It is a field populated with many players I confess I have never heard of, which was the test I applied in selecting the candidates. These are the players I have heard of. This significantly increases the odds of missing out the musician of your choice, and invites hoots of derision from the usual suspects. For shame, LJC, you have left out the great Carletto “Charlie” Cairoli! the Clown Prince of Trombone. I realise it’s a sort of sport to point out your host’s inadequacy, so get your notable omissions list in early and I’ll add them to the Poll, for the sake of posterity.
Source: from a collection sold to a central London record store by a musician – a trombone player, I was told, no surprise there. Many of the titles were saccharin-sweet Hollywood strings and big band arrangements which I expect mean something to a jobbing professional, but alas not to me. This Fuller album was the exception.
I did sample the other Fuller Impulse, Cabin in the Sky, but it was mostly big jazz orchestra arrangements and crackly to boot. Shame to pass up an original Impulse – the exception to the see it buy it philosophy, but I knew I would never play it. Very happy to go home with Soul Trombone.
When I visited the store last week, all the remaining big band titles had sold. Did I do right?