Curtis Fuller! 'Soul Trombone'
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Curtis Fuller! 'Soul Trombone'

Music Medley Review

Curtis Fuller! 'Soul Trombone'

Hello and welcome to the Music Medley Review where I pick a seemingly random album by a seemingly random artist and rate their music.

Today I have picked 'Soul Trombone’; a hard bop jazz album by Curtis Fuller! and The Jazz Clan. 'Soul Trombone' was released in 1961 by American jazz trombonist Curtis Fuller. This being Fuller's 17th album as leader and numerous others as sideman, it is easy to see that this album comes well into his incredibly long career. Curtis Fuller is accompanied by a small jazz combo call The Jazz Clan.

The Jazz Clan featured Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on tenor saxophone, Cedar Walton on piano, Jymie Merrit on bass, with G.T. Hogan (‘The Clan’) and Jimmy Cobb (tracks 2-6) on drums.

The main focus of this review is on the role of Curtis Fuller as band leader and solo trombone, but since Fuller was very gracious in the amount of solo work he gave his accompanying band we will be commenting on the role that solid accompaniment plays in successful musicianship.

Curtis Fuller also functioned as composer on three of the albums six charts: ‘The Clan’, ‘Newdles’, and ‘Ladies' Night’. This plays an important role in my claim that Curtis Fuller was not a run-of-the-mill jazz trombonist, but instead a very creative and productive artist. Obviously Fuller had a method of music making that made his music enjoyable for a lot of people, which is why it’s important that aspiring musicians study older popular music.

Artistically, Fuller is a talented trombonist. His clearly defined style of articulation promotes a brightly mellow feel. Making this very good lounge jazz. Fuller carries this mellow feel into the way he leads the band. He leads them in a simple melody centered jam session. Specifically in ‘Newdles’ Fuller doesn’t even play until the third minute of the track, showing how much he valued the input of other musicians in his work. Fuller often uses lots of more serious and complex chord changes as is common to hard bop and other variations of be bop in the early 1960’s. The charts on this album also features shifts between styles. Which mainly means switches between swung and straight eighth notes. To be fair, Curtis Fuller is probably the best example of swing style that I’ve ever heard on trombone, and I’ve heard a lot.

‘Soul Trombone’ also exemplifies how emotion can easily be portrayed with an appropriate amount of musical shape. This couples with the drastic musical changes to demonstrate how these changes affect the mood or emotions that each style specifically presents.

This album is a solid look into the popular music scene of the early 1960’s. Hard bop, and other variations of be bop, were becoming increasingly popular in urban due to the increasing popularity of John Coltrane. I don’t think anyone will argue that the average listener would rather listen to saxophone play complex hard bop solos than a trombone.

This being said, Curtis Fuller was still able to make a stable living off of the music he released despite the fact that trombone music has always been a little lacking in terms of a fan base. Which is why it’s important to study musicianship as a profession in older generations of music. It makes it evident that musical talent will result in success, which illustrates the importance of practicing good musicianship and working to expand our musical horizons.

Listen to ‘Soul Trombone’ by Curtis Fuller and The Jazz Clan at…

1. The Clan

2. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Bob Hilliard, David Mann)

3. Newdles

4. The Breeze and I (Ernesto Lacuona, Al Stillman)

5. Dear Old Stockholm (Traditional)

6. Ladies’ Night

P.s. Kevin Gates - 'Time for That’ / School Boy Q - ‘Collard Greens’

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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