One Track Mind: Curtis Fuller, "Sweetness" (2011)

Share this:

Well-known from the first as a trombone player with a penchant for warm, vocalized blues phrasing, Curtis Fuller was always an underrated composer, as well — from the painterly “Arabia” on The Curtis Fuller Jazztet, to the enigmatic “Lido Road” from Imagination, to the title track from his signature recording Blues-ette.

In fact, he still is: The former Art Blakey sideman’s new project on Challenge Records, a moving tribute to Fuller’s late wife called The Story of Cathy and Me, is broken up into three distinct sections — how they met, their time together and how he has worked to go on without her. Fuller’s composition “Sweetness,” perhaps as expected, arrives during that sun-splashed initial segment. He employs an undulating, rock-inspired beat, but the performance — with Fuller playing in tandem alongside trumpeter Lester Walker — is a swinging, joyous thing. As they execute blast after bright blast of brass, “Sweetness” begins to sound like the musical personification a new relationship, like two hearts leaping as one.

Curtis Fuller – ‘Sweetness’ (The Story of Cathy and Me, Challenge Records, 2011) by somethingelsereviews

Fuller burst to early fame after his signature turn on John Coltrane‘s Blue Train in 1957. (Not just on the memorable opening moments of the title track, either; Fuller is a quick-witted revelation on “Locomotion” from that album, as well.) The intervening 50-plus years have given his sound a darker edge, and much broader range.

But what gives this album, and in particular tracks like this one, such new emotional heft is their newfound context: Fuller grabs hold of the memory of love’s first moments, and he holds on tight. Knowing that this is all that Fuller has left, just a memory of a far-away time, only adds to the track’s soaring resolve.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B004RVDEFG” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0000A5A0T” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00479WMQA” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B004RVCBMI” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00008BRCN” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close