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Curtis Fuller

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Curtis DuBois Fuller (born in Detroit, December 15, 1934) is a United States jazz trombonist.

Fuller’s parents were Jamaican and died when he was young, so as a result he was raised in an orphanage. While in Detroit he was a schoolfriend of Paul Chambers and Donald Byrd, and also knew Tommy Flanagan, Thad Jones and Milt Jackson.

After army service between 1953 and 1955 (when he played in a band with Chambers and brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderley), Fuller joined the quintet of Yusef Lateef, another Detroit musician. In 1957 the quintet moved to New York, and Fuller recorded his first sessions as a leader for Prestige Records.

Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records first heard him playing with Miles Davis in the late fifties, and featured him as a sideman on record dates led by Sonny Clark and John Coltrane; Fuller’s work on the latter’s Blue Train album is probably his best known recorded performance. Fuller led four dates for Blue Note, though one of these, an album with Slide Hampton, was not issued for many years. Other sideman appearances over the next decade included work on albums under the leadership of Bud Powell, Jimmy Smith, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and Joe Henderson (a former room mate at Wayne State University in 1956). Fuller is particularly proud of being the only trombonist to have recorded with Coltrane, Powell and Smith, all in August or September 1957.

He was also the first trombonist to be a member of the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet, later becoming the sixth man in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1961, staying with Blakey until 1965. In the early 1960s he recorded several albums as leader for Impulse Records, having also recorded for Savoy Records and Epic after his obligations with Blue Note had ended.

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