Curtis Fuller

Curtis Fuller belongs in a first-rate group of trombone players who always make the trombone sound fluid and inviting. His ability to play with a clear sound up and down his instrument in a relaxed, casual manner is a testament to his skill. Fuller’s bop style solos and phrases are often ambitious and creative, setting him out front of almost all other trombone players.

Born in 1934, Fuller grew up in an orphanage in Detroit, studied music in high school, then began developing his skills in an Army band, where he played with Cannonball Adderley. He worked with Kenny Burrell and Yusef Lateef before moving to New York.

Fuller made his recording debut on the release Transition in 1955, and recorded in the late ’50s for Blue Note, Prestige and Savoy. He played with Coltrane on Blue Train, and many consider his work on that session to be one of the best examples of his complete mastery of the trombone.

He was a charter member of the Jazztet with Benny Golson and Art Farmer in 1959, then played in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1961 to 1965. Fuller toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1968, played with the Count Basie band from 1975 to 1977, and then did several sessions in New York. He also played with Art Blakey, Cedar Walton and Benny Golson in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Curtis Fuller continues to perform and record today. In 2007, he was named a NEA Jazz Master.

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