Curtis Fuller's Quintet
Recording Date: May 21, 1956
Recorded At Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Sessions in any genre of music are all too often described as "sublime," but seldom has that description been better deserved than with this relaxed hard bop classic. One looks to other catchalls such as "effortless" and "loose," but even those slight this amazing date by implying a lack of intensity - and intensity comes in all forms. For all intents and purposes, this is the first recorded meeting of what would become the famous Benny Golson/Art Farmer Jazztet (albeit without Farmer), a group most commonly associated with its 1960 Chess session, Meet the Jazztet. Curtis Fuller's next date, The Curtis Fuller Jazztet, and his appearance on the Chess date, only compound this point. Like perhaps Jimmy Smith's flagship, The Sermon, Blues-ette's brilliance manifests itself not only within the individual solos but also in the way the group functions as a collective. One gets the impression that these tunes could have continued for hours in the studio without the slightest lack of interest on anyone's part. This might be because many of the themes presented here are so basic and seemingly obvious that they don't seem like anything to write home about upon first listen. A day or so later, when you're walking down the street to the tempo of the title track, you may begin to think otherwise. These are some exceptionally catchy heads and many have since become standards. As far as individual performances are concerned, you're not likely to find better solos by any of the members of this quintet than you will here, though they all have extensive and very high-quality catalogs themselves. Picking highlights is a moot point. Blues-ette is best experienced as an entire LP. It would have surely made a greater impact upon its initial release had it been on a more high-profile label, such as Columbia or Blue Note, but there's no sense worrying about that now. Any serious jazz collection is incomplete without this record.
-Brandon Burke (All Music Guide)