Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Curtis FULLER Jazztet with Benny Golson 1959
Like the other Savoy recordings of Curtis Fuller, The Curtis Fuller Jazztet is a relaxed hard bop set featuring many of the young stars of the day. The more famous Blues-ette, from earlier in 1959, featured Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Garrison, and Al Harewood. This time, however, the Fuller/Golson combination included Lee Morgan, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and the percussive talents of drummer Charlie Persip. Listeners already acquainted with Blues-ette (or other comparable dates) should find this session to be familiar territory. Similarly, it is also very much in the same vein as another classic, Meet the Jazztet, upon which Fuller and Golson were again paired. Even though the compositions may not be as strong as those on Blues-ette (and how could they be?), there are a number of highly engaging solos by all and perhaps a bit more diversity with regard to both tempo and arrangement. Where Blues-ette's sublime grace stems from the collective understanding displayed by the group, the greatness of The Curtis Fuller Jazztet is to be found in the individual talents of the soloists. Of particular note are Golson's flights on up-tempo numbers such as the album's opener, "It's Alright With Me," and absolutely every soloist's take on the ballad "I'll Walk Alone." Let this highly recommended set also be a testament to the sparkling, Roy Haynes-like "snap-crackle" style of the underappreciated Charlie Persip.
By Brandon Burke. AMG.
Curtis Fuller was a well-established hard bop trombone player in New York when he made these excellent sides for Savoy in 1959. Going into the studio with an all-star lineup (Lee Morgan [tp] Benny Golson [ts] Wynton Kelly [p] Paul Chamber [b] Charlie Persip [d]), the results reveal a propensity for coming up with superb original compositions and the talent to play them well.
The CD wastes no time heating up: the first track (IT'S ALL RIGHT WITH ME) is very much on fire already, especially Benny Golson. On another up-tempo tune, Fuller's blues piece JUDY'S DILEMMA, Golson has his Coltrane hat on, as the sheets of sound come pouring out of his horn. Lee Morgan is muted on this tune and plays a handsome solo. The highlight track for me is WHEATLEIGH HALL, a Dizzy Gillespie composition that has a KILLER JOE riff behind it - a most infectious tune (the kind you can't get out of your head hours after you've finished listening to it). Morgan plays muted trumpet again and is beautiful on the theme. This is a great CD with no false moves, just straight ahead, solid hard bop jazz. Definitely worth checking out.
The latter version of "Arabia" is unleashed by the Blakey band as it swings with confidence and poise, while the original version shows only glimpses of this song's potential. And that in a nutshell is the problem with "The Curtis Fuller Jazztet" on the whole, it has great promise but it never quite reaches the classic status that was seemingly its birthright. Maybe the Savoy trademark the unrehearsed jam session has struck again after all. With a bit more preparation, "The Curtis Fuller Jazztet" would have been a masterpiece...
Curtis Fuller- (Trombone),
Wynton Kelly- (Piano),
Lee Morgan- (Trumpet),
Paul Chambers- (Bass),
Benny Golson- (Tenor Sax),
Charlie Persip- (Drums)
01.It's All Right With Me -Cole Porter (7:35)
02.Wheatleigh Hall -Dizzy Gillespie (14:00)
03.I'll Walk Alone -Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne (6:45)
04.Arabia -Curtis Fuller (6:30)
05.Judy's Dilemma -Curtis Fuller (5:30)