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Curtis Fuller at the Jazz Bakery

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One thing when going to see jazz music is that there are a few different degrees of connecting with the music. First the players have to be connected and then the audience feeds off of that energy. You can tell when the band is just getting together for another gig and when they are really diggin’ the music. Curtis was loving it!

It was so great to see one of the real true masters of the music. When you talk about jazz back in the 50’s and 60’s and the scene, Curtis was there and was a super dominate part of it as well. Curtis has performed with so many of the greatest jazz musicians that there are way too many to mention but, here are just a few Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver, Hampton Hawes, Cannonball Adderley, Yusef Lateef and so many more.

Last night at the Jazz Bakery, Curtis’s quintet consisted of some of the finest players from Los Angeles as well as an import from the NYC! Donald Vega, a monster on piano, Derek Oles, cool fine and fluid on bass, Fritz Wise, the heart and soul on drums and from the east, Javon Jackson on Tenor.

I went back stage and was headed up to my favorite seats as I saw Curtis and Javon chillin’ in the back waiting to go on stage. I sent some love from afar and went to go check out the set which opened up with the delightful sounds of 3. After the first two tunes Javon and Curtis joined in with overwhelming applause from the audience. Colorful in character as well as on his instrument, Curtis spoke is French, thanking the audience for coming out to appreciate the music. He started telling stories about recent gigs in New York and opened up with a tune called, “The Clan.” No relation to or derivation from anything with a thread count!

It was slammin’ and so was Curtis. Great energy, I love a tune in 8! Donald was just marvelous, spanning the piano with that light, bright, melodic style. Derek was hummin’ and strummin’, perfectly holding the bottom and filling the spaces with deep notes of love. Fritz was on it with a look on his face so casual and cool while his body was workin’ it on time. And Javon, one of the young cats today on the New York scene blowin’ and holding down the straight ahead tradition.

Curtis and the five were swingin’ in four with “Stardust.” Curtis was dancing and loving the music when he finished his solos. It is so nice and refreshing to see, hear and feel the power of great jazz music when the players are all over it. Just how a jazz experience should be! I love the jazz stories Curtis tells. Forget the books, he is jazz history and when he speaks, you had better listen up.

They closed with “Caravan,” a tune that someone took Curtis to see Duke perform when he was a child. That was the beginning and from the looks of it, there is no end in sight!

Click here for pictures!

LeRoy Downs

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