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Trombone great Curtis Fuller, last of the Blue Train players, dies at 86

Sad news from the States: the great Curtis Fuller has died. He was 86. No cause of death has been reported. US jazz magazine Jazz Times tweeted that the trombone icon passed away on Saturday and there are many tributes to Fuller on social media. …

Published: 10 May 2021. Updated: 45 days.

Sad news from the States: the great Curtis Fuller has died. He was 86. No cause of death has been reported. US jazz magazine Jazz Times tweeted that the trombone icon passed away on Saturday and there are many tributes to Fuller on social media.

A towering figure in jazz, a huge influence still in modern-mainstream jazz circles, Fuller appeared on a long list of deeply revered albums including most notably John Coltrane classic Blue Train and was the longest survivor of the band (collectively Trane, Lee Morgan, CF, Kenny Drew, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones) who recorded the album in 1957 and that Blue Note released the following year. The Detroiter was also on Art Blakey classic Ugetsu (1963) and Hank Mobley's A Caddy for Daddy (released in 1967) to name but a few.

Fuller was from Detroit of Jamaican descent. He was raised in an orphanage and started playing trombone when he was 16. He went to school with Paul Chambers, later of the First Great Miles Davis Quintet also on Blue Train and Kind of Blue, and Donald Byrd. After serving in the US army Fuller joined Yusef Lateef’s quintet and was early-on inspired by J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, Bob Brookmeyer and Urbie Green.

Fuller made his first albums as a leader for Prestige and was spotted by Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records who featured him on records by Sonny Clark and John Coltrane including the classic Blue Train. They made jazz history together.

Also later a member of the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet and very notably the Jazz Messengers Fuller recorded his own records as a leader for such labels as Impulse and in the 1970s at the top of the big band tree he toured with the Count Basie band and also led Giant Bones with another trombone legend Kai Winding. Fuller became an NEA Jazz Master, the highest honour in US jazz, in 2007.

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Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders, The Quiet Mind ***

Onosante's reissue see more appealed to me more than this upcoming Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders duo album Unity certainly on what we know of it so far. Sanders is one of the UK's best free-jazz drummers and carries the main interest in the …

Published: 9 May 2021. Updated: 46 days.

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Onosante's reissue see more appealed to me more than this upcoming Paul Dunmall and Mark Sanders duo album Unity certainly on what we know of it so far. Sanders is one of the UK's best free-jazz drummers and carries the main interest in the duoplay. But this is a slightly frustrating track that nonetheless is strong on development but less so on reaching any kind of conclusion. Dunmall, a veteran whose sound lands in the interstices of late-Coltrane and Albert Ayler, seems distant for some reason and all I could do was latch on to the skilled timbral command and expression that he generates successfully. But the track doesn't really gain any momentum. Yet there's enough to grip on to and so read more on Sanders in the context of a recent more compelling Collapse Uncollapse performance and listen here. SG.

Unity is out on 577 on 14 May