Trombonist Curtis Fuller's recordings for Savoy in the 1950s, like those of labelmates Hank Mobley, Milt Jackson, Wilbur Harden, Donald Byrd, and others, were prototypes in the development of hard bop. The next stage would come with the subsequent work of many of the same artists for Blue Note, where improved recording technique, greater attention to writing and arranging, and a more generous policy with respect to preparation and rehearsal time helped bring in the classic hard bop era of the late '50s and early '60s. On Fuller's Jazz…It's Magic, the hard bop prototype is still under refinement, but it's easy to enjoy the music in its essential elements: elegant, bluesy melodies; earthy, yet sophisticated, solo work; and fresh treatments of standards.
One of the best non-Blue Note albums from the early years of trombone giant Curtis Fuller – a definite cooker that more than lives up to its title! At his best, Fully often played his instrument with a style that was more like a trumpet than trombone – isolated notes, sharp sense of rhythm, and an ability to match energy of all his top-shelf contemporaries – which is a key thing here, as the lineup includes Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on tenor, and Cedar Walton on drums – almost like a Jazz Messengers album from the time that Fuller was in the group, but without Art Blakey. The whole album's wonderful – and titles include "The Clan", "Newdles", and "Ladies Night" – plus a hard hitting rendition of "Dear Old Stockholm" which runs for 9 minutes.
Most of this CD is the complete output by Curtis Mosby & His Dixieland Blue Blowers, one of the top jazz bands active in Los Angeles in the 1920s. Although the soundtrack from its appearance in the 1929 movie Hallelujah is not here, this disc has the first-time release of two numbers from a scratchy 1924 test pressing. Otherwise, the eight selections and four alternate takes from 1927-1929 are full of spirit and strong musicianship, with highlights including "Weary Stomp," "Whoop 'Em Up Blues," "Blue Blower's Blues," "Hardee Stomp," and three versions of "Tiger Stomp."
This expanded version of the classic album adds so much material that it really needs to be reviewed separately from the original article. The first disc of the two-CD set presents the entire album as it was originally sequenced, with the addition of the single mixes of "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly." It's disc two that's really of interest to collectors, assembling about 40 minutes of different material from the same era, all but two tracks previously unissued (and those two were not released in the U.S.).
Roots is Curtis Mayfield's visionary album, a landmark creation every bit as compelling and far-reaching in its musical and extra-musical goals as Marvin Gaye's contemporary What's Goin' On. Opening on the hit "Get Down," the album soars on some of the sweetest and most eloquent – yet driving – soul sounds heard up to that time. Mayfield's growing musical ambitions, first manifested on the Curtis album, and his more sophisticated political sensibilities, presented with a lot of raw power on Curtis Live!, are pulled together here in a new, richer studio language, embodied in extended song structures ("Underground"), idealistic yet lyrically dazzling anthems ("We Got to Have Peace," "Keep On Keeping On," and, best of all, the soaring "Beautiful Brother of Mine"), and impassioned blues ("Now You're Gone").