Curtis Fuller's life-changing experience

Now, a Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "God Bless the Child" CD: Up Jumped Spring, Delmark DG-550 (cut 4)

Curtis Fuller: It's like God has always had his arms around me.   It's like the road was paved already...(:05)

NEA Jazz Master Curtis Fuller refers to a serendipitous experience that inspired him to shape his entire life around jazz trombone.  

Orphaned at age 6, Fuller was one of three black children in an institution of 350 kids.   One day, one of the nuns at the orphanage decided to take him on a cultural excursion that would forever change his life...

Curtis Fuller: She said I was so sad and sitting by myself all the time and, "I will take you so you can see your people and what they do," and stuff like that.   And she took me to a theater and I got a chance to see J.J. Johnson with the Illinois Jacquet Band. (:14)

Jacquet's lead trombonist - J.J. johnson -- made a deep impression on the young Fuller.

Curtis Fuller: I was at an all-time low as a kid, you know, and I didn't have much pride.   There was no such thing as Black pride or anything then <laughs>.   You know, the only thing we saw as a kid was if it was Black it was, like, going to see a Tarzan movie and you see the Africans.   And just to see that man stand there proud and <sings> you know real proud.   And I said well wow, you know?   And I honed in on that as a kid. (:24)

MUSIC:   same - up and under

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

Curtis Fuller's life-changing experience