CD review

Larry Fuller – Overjoyed

Larry Fuller – Overjoyed
(Capri 74155-2. CD review by Peter Vacher)

American pianist Larry Fuller attracted early attention after acting as accompanist and MD to the singer Ernestine Anderson for six years and then moved on to work in the trios headed by, first, drummer Jeff Hamilton and then bassist Ray Brown before linking with the popular guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli from 2002 to 2013. In other words, he has quite a pedigree.

This is his current trio, with the fast-moving Lewis Nash on drums and bassist Hassan Shakur who is, incidentally, the son of Gerry Wiggins, another fine pianist. Deploying an eclectic mix of material, everything from Got My Mojo Workin’ to Wes Montgomery ‘s Fried Pies via some Gershwin and Bossa Beguine by Oscar Peterson – this easily the best track on the album and taken at quite a clip – Fuller is clearly a man with an open mind and a desire to offer something for everybody.  

That said, his lively version of the Montgomery tune which opens the album certainly sets the pace and shows off his strengths: a boppish inclination and a vigorous approach, with swing uppermost. This is followed by a wholly softer touch on Steve Wonder’s Overjoyed, all limpid arpeggios and rustling brushes on the drums. His composition The Mooch has a gospel feel, and might be something of which Horace Silver would have approved – it moves along well. Then comes a ballad version, much in the Peterson mode, of How Long Has This Been Going On, nicely constructed with Tatum-like runs and plenty of decoration.

Given the variety of treatments accorded to this very varied selection of pieces, it’s evident that Fuller has the necessary keyboard command to go wherever he wants and a finely-tuned harmonic sensibility.  I might have preferred that he stay on a more uppish line, as on his peppy if too-short view of Ray Bryant’s immortal Cubano Chant where Nash digs in rewardingly, rather than this slightly scatter-gun approach. Others may disagree.

©Peter Vacher / 27.6.2019

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