Saturday, July 31, 2010

Curtis Fuller: I Will Tell Her

Curtis Fuller (trombone; b. 1934)
I Will Tell Her (Capri Records)

Keith Oxman (sax)
Al Hood (trumpet)
Chip Stephens (piano)
Ken Walker (bass)
Todd Reid (drums)

As some may know I am a huge fan of Curtis Fuller and I try to recommend his music to anyone who asks me about jazz. Probably the most definitive document of Fuller's ability is still his debut, The Opener (Blue Note) he continues to record stellar albums without really missing a beat.

Curtis Fuller continues an illustrious career with his new release I Will Tell Her (Capri Records). It's an impressive and expressive double album filled with a nice mixture of mainly Fuller originals and only three standards. The Detroit native has a style built out of the J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding framework. He has worked with host of legends including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Kenny Burrell and Benny Golson to name just a few.

I Will Tell Her a killer set featuring a fairly new sextet for Fuller (they had recorded one album previously under saxophonist, Oxman's name). The album is split between one studio recording and one live recording. Both sets move at breakneck speed with the classic Kenny Dorham piece "Minor's Holiday" and Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness" as points of upward flight. The title track, "I Will Tell Her" (and the album itself) is a loving tribute to Fuller's wife, Cathy and showcases the distinct beauty and agility Curtis Fuller has built on the trombone.

The live date was recorded at the Denver jazz club, Dazzle. Four of the six songs on the second disc are included on the studio side but these versions are drastically different due to the live setting and the pacing in fierce. On the Fuller original "The Court" Keith Oxman really shines during his solos. I had really heard Keith Oxman before but now that I have he seems to be someone worth keeping an eye on. The live version of "I Will Tell Her" is just as moving if not more. There is more emotion pour into this version (mainly because of the live setting and the inspiration of the audience) that really makes it an extremely memorable moment of the recording.

On "Maze", Oxman again lays down some heavy movements that feel almost like Coltrane. Al Hood also displays some great chops here as well. The band has only been together a short time (since 2005) but it sounds like they have been at for decades. The always romantic piece "I Want To Talk About You" starts to bring the live proceedings to close in comfortable fashion. And the whole disc closes as hot as it began with "Minor's Holiday", this time with some emphatic playing from Chip Stephens and guided by Oxman and Fuller's incredible interplay.

I Will Tell Her is a pristine document of two killer sessions and a loving overture to his beloved wife. I would now say anyone who doesn't own a Curtis Fuller record, you can't go wrong with either The Opener or I Will Tell Her. This is vintage hard bop at its best.

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