Curtis Fuller was born in 1934 in Detroit. His parents were Jamaican and died when he was young. As a result, he was raised in an orphanage. He came late to music, started playing in high school tenor horn and moved at the age of 16 years to the trombone. Fuller was a school friend of jazz bassist Paul Chambers and the jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd. He also had contact with such well-known musicians such as Tommy Flanagan, Thad Jones and Milt Jackson.
In 1953 he left Detroit to serve for two years in the army. There he played in a band with his brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderley. After his military service was Fuller member of the quintet of Yusef Lateef, another well-known musician from Detroit. In 1957 he moved with this quintet to New York, where he recorded his first recordings as a leader for Prestige Records.
Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records heard Fuller in the late 1950s with Miles Davis playing and hired him as a sideman for recordings of Sonny Clark and John Coltrane. Fuller participation in Coltrane's album Blue Train is probably his best-known recording plate. Fuller made four albums of his own for Blue Note, one of which (in collaboration with Slide Hampton ) remained until a few years unpublished. In the next ten years, Fuller played as a sideman on many well-known jazz greats. He can be heard for example on albums by Bud Powell ( Bud! The Amazing Bud Powell ( Vol. 3) ), Jimmy Smith, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and Joe Henderson. Fuller himself says that he is proud to have made the only trombonist both with Coltrane, Powell and Smith recordings ( all in the period August-September 1957). The end of 1957, after only six months in New York, Fuller had received a total of six albums under his own name and was heard on 15 other recordings as a sideman, such as when Gil Evans album Great Jazz Standards ( 1960).
Fuller was the first trombonist, the member of the Jazztet by Art Farmer and Benny Golson was. In 1961 he became a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, where he remained until 1965. In the early 1960s he also recorded several albums under his own name for Impulse! Records on after he had already made in the meantime recordings for Savoy Records and Epic.
In the late 1960s he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band and was with Count Basie on tour. In addition, he played again with Blakey and Golson. After some health problems Fuller is now active again, playing on stages and takes albums.
In 2007 he received the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship.
Recordings under his own name (selection)
- New Trombone (1957, Prestige )
- The Opener (1957, Blue Note )
- Bone & Bari (1957, Blue Note )
- Sliding Easy (1959, United Artists )
- Blues -ette (1959, Savoy )
- Imagination (1959, Savoy )
- Jazz ... It's magic! (1960, Savoy )
- Blues -ette, Part 2 (1993, Savoy )
- Down Home ( Capri, 2012)
Recordings as a sideman (selection)
- John Coltrane: Blue Train (1957, Blue Note )
- Benny Golson: Gone With Golson; Groovin 'With Golson Gettin' With It, The Other Side of Benny Golson (all OJC, 1959)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Jazz Messengers ( Impulse Records, 1961)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Mosaic ( Blue Note, 1961)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Buhaina 's Delight ( Blue Note, 1961)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Three Blind Mice Vol 1 & 2 ( Blue Note, 1962)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Caravan (OJC 1962)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Ugetsu ( OJC, 1963)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Blakey ( Blue Note, 1964)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Kyoto ( OJC, 1964)
- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers ' S Make It ( Limelight / Verve, 1964)
- Art Farmer, Benny Golson: Meet The Jazztet (1960, Chess )
- Art Farmer, Benny Golson: The Jazztet - Moment to Moment ( Soul Note, 1983)
- Art Farmer, Benny Golson: realtime (Contemporary, 1986)
- Art Farmer, Benny Golson: Back to the City ( OJC, 1986)
- The Complete Blue Note / UA Curtis Fuller Sessions ( 1957-59 ) - ( Mosaic 1996) - 5 LPs, 3 CDs with Hank Mobley, Bobby Timmons, Paul Chambers, Art Taylor, Tate Houston bs, Sonny Clark, Art Farmer, George Tucker, Louis Hayes, Slide Hampton, Charlie Persip, Lee Morgan, Tommy Flanagan, Elvin Jones, Gigi Gryce, Benny Golson arr