New Year Listening

So which CD was the first in to the player for 2019? Well that honour went to the trombonist Curtis Fuller.

The CD, Curtis Fuller: Four Classic Albums, is from Avid Jazz and was bought on boxing day at HMV in Winchester (there really are some of us who still like to pick up the physical article after browsing the racks of a music store) and has been sat on my desk waiting to played since then – this is not an example of deliberate delayed gratification but an enforced hiatus in listening due to a head cold that has long outstayed its welcome.

Avid Jazz is a very useful, and cost effective, label through which to explore jazz. They will give you three, four, or sometimes five albums by an artist across two CDs. The Curtis Fuller set is four albums starting with the album The Opener , which was originally released on the Blue Note label in 1957, featuring :

Curtis Fuller – trombone

Hank Mobley – tenor saxophone (tracks 2, 3, 5 & 6)

Bobby Timmons – piano

Paul Chambers – bass

Art Taylor – drums

Now that is a stellar line-up and it shows on the recording. This album is simply very good straight ahead jazz playing from musicians who know how to play for each other to create a sound that impresses the listener.
And if my word is not enough how about this review from Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music:

“The Opener” is trombonist Curtis Fuller’s first album for Blue Note and it is a thoroughly impressive affair. Working with a quintet featuring tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor, Fuller runs through a set of three standards — “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening,” “Here’s to My Lady,” “Soon” — two originals and an Oscar Pettiford-penned calypso. The six songs give Fuller a chance to display his warm, fluid style in all of its variations. “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening” illustrates that he can be seductive and lyrical on ballads, while the brassy “Hugore” and hard-swinging “Lizzy’s Bounce” shows that he can play hard without getting sloppy. His backing musicians are equally impressive; in particular, Mobley’s robust playing steals the show. In all, “The Opener”, along with his three earlier sessions for Prestige and New Jazz, establishes Fuller as one of the most distinctive and original hard bop trombonists of the late ’50s.

Well that is album one of a four album set heard through once, three albums to listen to from one of the distinctive trombone players of the 1950s before moving on to ..?