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Trombonist Curtis Fuller’s latest album, titled Down Home from Capri Records, is a witty collaboration between Fuller and his bandmates of seven years, tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman, trumpeter Al Hood, drummer Todd Reid, pianist Chip Stephens and bassist Ken Walker. Down Home features six original tracks by Fuller, one by Oxman and two by Stephens. The album was produced by Thomas Burns and Oxman with Hood and Stephens acting as associate producers and recorded at Mile High Music in Wheat Ridge, CO. Down Home was released on June 19.
The opening track is the title track. It’s a smooth yet catchy jaunt with Fuller’s robust trombone play and Stephens piano work in the background. Listeners could picture hearing this song at a shindig where guests dance merrily around the dance floor.
The second track is titled “Ladies Night.” Beginning slower and with a deeper rhythm than the previous track, it has Fuller’s sultry trombone work, Hood’s melodious trumpeting and Oxman’s flowing tenor sax play. Also, Stephens’ soft piano work can be heard throughout the track, intermittently in the background.
“C Hip’s Blues” is the album’s third track. Fuller’s trombone and Reid’s drums give this track a bluesy tone that lives up its name. About halfway through the track, Hood’s triumphant trumpet makes its presence known giving the track a more contemporary vibe.
“Then I’ll Be Tired of You,” is the sixth track on the album and is a tenor sax feature from Oxman with piano accompaniment from Stephens and Walker’s bass play in the background. Listeners could imagine hearing this track in a romantic comedy or drama where the lead has just lost their true love and they are roaming the streets aimlessly as flashbacks of their relationship bombard the screen. The track definitely conveys raw emotion as each instrument is played with spot on accuracy.
The seventh track, simply titled “Mr. L” picks the pace considerably from the previous track. It’s upbeat, danceable with a big band feel. Fuller’s trombone is larger than life along with Hood’s trumpet, Stephens’ tickling of the ivories and Reid’s drumming in the background.
“Jonli Bercosta” is the album’s ninth track and continues on a happy path with Fuller’s carefree trombone play, Hood’s bubbly trumpet work and Oxman’s symphonic tenor sax all coming together in perfect unison. At one point on the track, Oxman’s tenor sax and Stephens’ melodic piano playing take center stage for a sweet boogie fest.
The tenth and final track on Down Home is titled “The High Priest.” It’s a fast track filled with swift yet flamboyant trombone and trumpet notes from Fuller and Hood respectively. In addition, Reid’s expert drumming and Walker’s deep bass play add profound tones to the track’s background.
In conclusion, Down Home from Curtis Fuller is a prime example of how a longtime affiliation between talented musicians can create an album with varied tones and rhythms that is a pure joy to listen to.