Curtis Fuller on finding his own sound

Now, a Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Five Spot After Dark" CD: Blues-ette, Savoy Jazz SVY 17186 (cut 1)

At some point, every jazz musician struggles to develop his or her own sound...

Curtis Fuller: I try to be warm and effective.   And sometimes I'm cold and defective! <laughs>

For NEA Jazz Master Curtis Fuller, it was a lengthy process of imitation that finally led to innovation.   He began by trying to copy the great trombonist J.J. Johnson...

Curtis Fuller: J.J.'s sound and method and clarity -- direct, positive -- was so astute and so gripping that that's the sound I wanted to do.   And I did it so long, those days writers used to say "that J.J. Johnsonist style of this guy" in their interviews.    And Miles said, "You get your own identity, you know.   Play yourself.   I love Dizzy Gillespie but I couldn't play that stuff so I got--" you know, and then Dizzy told me once, he said, "Right in the middle of that horn you got the sound." And after a few comments like that, I began to believe in myself.   And then other players began to acknowledge that I was coming into my own. (:52)

MUSIC:   same - up and under

This Jazz Moment with trombonist Curtis Fuller was created by The National Endowment for the Arts.

Curtis Fuller on finding
his own sound