Trombonist Curtis Fuller’s The Story of Cathy & Me (CR73309) is a set of ballads dedicated to his late wife Cathy.
One of jazz’s greatest trombonists, Curtis Fuller has been an important force in the music since the late 1950s. But even with all of his recordings (including with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Jazztet), The Story of Cathy & Me is an unusual project.
Fuller lost his wife of many years shortly before this 2010 recording. Although feeling great sadness, he knew that expressing his emotions on a recording would help both him and the friends and relatives of Cathy Fuller.
Fuller only plays on about half of the selections although he does speak during four brief “interludes.” There are plenty of fine solos from trumpeter Lester Walker (who sometimes recalls Freddie Hubbard) and tenors Daniel Bauerkemper and Ameen Marable. Nick Rosen and Kenny Banks Jr. (taking turns on piano) are quite sensitive in their playing. In addition, Tia Michelle House has two expressive vocals.
The material deals with Curtis Fuller meeting Cathy, their life together, her being stricken with cancer, and his life after her passing. In addition to a few originals and some lesser-known material (including songs by Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Lalo Schifrin), the band is emotional on such ballads as “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Too Late Now” and “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year.”
This heartfelt project, which contains some fine music, will comfort those who are grieving.