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The Opener [LP]
Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Audio CD, Import, Original recording remastered, September 2, 2008
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'The Opener' is a 1957 album by American jazz trombonist, Curtis Fuller. Fuller's first for Blue Note, 'The Opener' will be reissued as part of an overall Blue Note 75th anniversary vinyl initiative spearheaded by current Blue Note Records President, Don Was.
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This album is a thorough winner because of Fuller's superior performance, the near-perfect programming of originals and underplayed standards, and the contributions of Hank Mobley (recorded at a time during his career when his playing was "can't miss"--a thing of inexhaustible beauty, the epitome of melodic inventiveness at the behest of pure emotive soul. Compared to the albums that came into vogue ten years later--characterized by the Dorian mode played ad nauseum, rhythm-and-blues "Sidewinder" 3-chord wannabes passing as "original" compositions, and last but not least the beginnings of electronica, fusion, non-decaying and bigger bass sounds--this one is an inarguable masterpiece. Because of Mobley it can be recommended even ahead of some of J. J.'s albums.
The album opens with the standard "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening", with Fuller providing the only horn. I don't think I've ever heard a trombone sound as beautiful as on this piece. Mobley joins the crew on Fuller's bluesy original "Hugore". Fuller and Mobley both provide stirring solos and Curtis really drives home the point with the recurring theme. This piece really cooks. The group tackles Oscar Pettiford's "Oscalypso", which as indicated by the name is awash in island rhythm, provided ably by Taylor. Mobley sits out "Here's to My Lady", another romantic vehicle for Fuller's expressive trombone. Paul Chambers also turns in a nice solo and Timmons gets to shine as well, but the trombone rightfully has center stage here. Mobs is back for the rousing "Lizzie's Bounce", the other Fuller penned number, which lives up to its name. The album closes with a killer version of Gershwin's "Soon".
This is another fantastic entry to the RVG series and will no doubt have fans clamoring for more releases by Fuller and from Hank Mobley. Keep 'em coming Rudy!
It's also nice to hear Hank Mobley teamed up with a trombonist instead of a trumpeter which was generally how Blue Note recorded him (e.g., with Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, and Blue Mitchell).
As for the tunes, you can hear samples on the site, so I need not go into them