Celebrated jazz trombonist, composer, and integral player in the development of the hard-bop movement of the 1950s and 60s, Curtis DuBois Fuller, died in Detroit on May 8 at the age of 88.
Born in Detroit in 1932 to Jamaican parents, both of whom died while he was a child, Fuller turned to music in high school, though his interest in jazz was first piqued when a nun at his orphanage took him to see a performance by Illinois Jacquet. At the age of 16, he discovered the trombone — the instrument that would lead Fuller to play alongside some of the most notable players of the genre, on some of the most important recordings of all time, before entering the pantheon of jazz pioneers himself.
“Fuller was strongly rooted in the fundamentals of blues, swing, and bebop, and his improvisations balanced head and heart in compelling fashion,” author of Jazz From Detroit Mark Stryker wrote. “He married a lickety-split technique with soulful expression, and even in his early twenties, he had a distinctive identity ideally suited for the hard-bop mainstream.”
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