Curtis Fuller


Curtis Fuller was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1934. The city of Detroit, at the time, was the breeding ground for an astonishing pool of fresh, highly individual talent. Milt Jackson and Hank Jones had already gone to New York and made their names. But coming of age in Detroit in the early fifties were Donald Byrd, Thad and Elvin Jones, Paul Chambers, Louis Hayes, Kenny Burrell, Barry Harris, Pepper Adams, Yusef Lateef, Sonny Red, Doug Watkins, Tommy Flanagan and many others who would make the mid-decade migration to New York and eventually international recognition. When in 1953, Fuller left home to join the army he met and played with Cannonball Adderley and Junior Mance among others. Returning home after two years, he began working with Yusef Lateef's quintet. The Lateef quintet came to New York in April 1957 to record two albums for Savoy and a third produced by Dizzy Gillespie for Verve. Having established himself at the age of 22 Fuller was soon recruited for recordings with Paul Quinchette and then went on to make his first albums as a leader for which (like the Blue Note debuts by Kenny Burrell and Thad Jones the prior year), he used mostly transplanted Detroit players. Blue Note's Alfred Lion heard Fuller perform at the Cafe Bohemia with Miles Davis and soon he joined the Blue Note family, appearing on a Clifford Jordan date and making his own, The Opener. That summer Curtis Fuller was booked to do sessions with Jimmy Smith and Bud Powell, following which he appeared on "Blue Train" with John Coltrane. After eight months in New York, Curtis Fuller had made six albums as a leader and appeared on 15 others. In February 1960 Fuller, Benny Golson, Art Farmer and McCoy Tyner founded The Jazztet, which was to become a very successful unit, however Fuller left after a few months. In 1961, Curtis Fuller joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the combined writing and playing talents of Fuller, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Cedar Walton, driven by Blakey and Jymie Meritt (later Reggie Workman), created one of the most exciting and distinctive bands in the history of hard bop. Fuller stayed with the Jazz Messengers until February 1965. He spent the rest of that decade freelancing around New York, adding his beautiful sound to a number of Blue Note dates such as Lee Morgan's Tom Cat, Hank Mobley's A Caddy For Daddy, Joe Henderson's Mode For Joe and Wayne Shorter's Schizophrenia.
Recommended Recordings
New Trombone . Prestige
Imagination Savoy
Curtis Fuller with Red Garland Prestige
The Opener . Blue Note
Blues-ette, 1959 Savoy
One day Forever with Benny Golson Arkadia Jazz
The Curtis Fuller Jazztet with Benny Golson Savoy
Getting'it together (with Lateef and Hubbard) Collectables
Soul Trombone Prestige
Meet the Jazztet Chess records
With Red Garland OJC