The magnificent chops for bebop trombone may have fallen to J.J. Johnson, but God gave Curtis Fuller a big chunk of the soul. Fuller’s sound is dependably clean and solid, uncomplicated and direct, a tad guttural and gruff, but honest as your Dutch uncle, and satisfying and comforting as a roast beef dinner.
This box—comprising Fuller’s five 40-minute Blue Note LP dates, four quintets and a sextet—has more pure melody per track than most Blue Notes. Fuller’s sound shows best on hot-buttered ballads where the pure melody pours forth, and the box has a bunch of them: a grateful “Lovely Way to Spend an Evening,” a devoted “Here’s to My Lady.” “Carvon” is an extreme example: trombone then bowed bass state a somewhat somber theme, then together. Otherwise, they’re happy little tunes, played ever so nicely. There’s also a modicum of waltzes that really dance: the cute “Oatmeal Cookie” and “Nita’s Waltz.”