Larry Fuller – Overjoyed – Capri Records 74155-2 51:13****
( Larry Fuller – piano; Hassan Shakur – bass; Lewis Nash – drums)
In both The Penguin Jazz Guide and Jazz The Rough Guide, there is a mention of the name Fuller, but unfortunately it’s not Larry Fuller. That is too bad, because Larry Fuller is a wicked jazz pianist who deserves more attention. With this new release on Capri Records entitled Overjoyed (available May 17,2019), Fuller showcases that he is a player of expressive versatility, with a vigorous uncluttered style.
In a career that began in the late eighties, Fuller has worked with such luminaries as vocalist Ernestine Anderson, drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist Ray Brown and more recently guitarist John Pizzarelli. During these sojourns, Fuller honed his craft and built his solid credentials. Accordingly the program presented in this release is filled with a panoply of compositions that are informed by his experiences starting with Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies”. Taken at an up tempo pace and pushed along by drummer Nash and bassist Shakur both of whom take proficient solos, Fuller is energetically assertive as he romps through the theme.
The title track is “Overjoyed” which comes from the Stevie Wonder songbook. The trio investigates the material in an introspective and meticulous manner as Fuller knows where he wants to take the number.
Larry Fuller joined Ray Brown in April 2000 and became that trio’s pianist. This was the final Brown group as he died in July 2002 while playing a gig in Indianapolis. It was during this period that Fuller became acquainted with Brown’s composition “Lined With A Groove” which he tackles here. It has, not unexpectedly, a strong bass line which bassist Shakur plays with perfection. Fuller’s own rumination is investigative and filled with rhythmic fluency.
This session has two solo tracks by Fuller starting with “How Long Has This Been Going On” by George & Ira Gershwin and later “Never Let Me Go” by Ray Evans. These tracks shows a wonderful contrast in interpretive styles that Fuller does to perfection. The former is a mid-tempo lilt that displays how inventive and highly flexible Fuller’s playing is. On the latter number, it is given a ballad reading that demonstrates Fuller is a very sensitive and articulate exponent of the underlying material.
Oscar Peterson was one of those pianists to whom Fuller looked as a model of both style and certainty in the music. Fuller plays homage to Peterson through one of his compositions “Bossa Beguine”. As the title implies the composition is a bossa nova although it opens with some Mozartian references. As the theme expands, Fuller and the band look deeper into the bossa beat with the pianists single note articulation up and down the keyboard.
The album closes with Preston “Red” Foster’s blues number “Got My Mojo Working”. Muddy Waters gave the number its traditional blues feel, but the funkiest jazz rendition was done by organist Jimmy Smith supported by a band led by Oliver Nelson who also did the arranging. Fuller and the trio generate a blanket of rhythm, while Fuller’s effortless right hand carries the all the requisite energy the number requires.
This is a stellar release with a richness of inventiveness and variety.
Lined With A Groove
How Long Has This Been Going On
Bossa Nova Do Marilla
Never Let Me Go
Got My Mojo Working