Three nights at Birdland, NYC
A master of both technique and expression, pianist Larry Fuller celebrates the release of his recent Capri Records recording Overjoyed with CD release concerts Thursday, September 12 – Saturday, September 14 at Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44th St., New York City. Showtime each night at 7 p.m. Joining him will be bassist George DeLancey and drummer Jason Tiemann.
Fuller learned his craft the old school way: on the bandstand, honing his impressive talents with four giants of mainstream jazz: the legendary bassist Ray Brown, famed vocalist Ernestine Anderson, drum giant Jeff Hamilton, and acclaimed guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli, Fuller developed a personal style both relentlessly swinging and outwardly expressive. On Overjoyed (released May 17, 2019 via Capri Records), Fuller translates that invaluable experience into a deeply personal statement of jubilation directly communicated through rhythmically charged, yet sensitively inflected, improvisation. Melding in harmony with the bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Lewis Nash, Fuller and his gifted compatriots inject soul and cheer into the Great American Songbook, jazz, blues, and pop standards as well as companionable originals.
Fuller brings his own take to a sweeping variety of compositions including Stevie Wonder’s classic “Overjoyed”; Oscar Peterson’s “Bossa Beguine,” Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies,” Ray Bryant’s “Cubano Chant,” Ray Brown’s “Lined with a Groove,” and Richard Evans’ “Bossa Nova Do Marilla”; the standards “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” “Never Let Me Go” and “Mona Lisa”; the blues workhorse “Got My Mojo Workin’”; and his own finely constructed originals, “Jane’s Theme” and “The Mooch”. Exhibiting an outsized command of his instrument balanced by tasteful displays of inward beauty, Fuller has the worlds of swing, bebop and the blues at his command and isn’t shy about sharing his gifts to engage the full emotional response of the listener. Whether meshing flawlessly with his rhythm mates, or exhibiting his finely tuned sensitivity and imagination throughout lyrical solo performances (“Never Let Me Go” and “How Long Has This Been Going On?”), Fuller speaks with his own pianistic voice.
Famed for the exuberance he brings to the bandstand and the seamless connection that he makes with his audience, Fuller’s artistic message is as forthright as his music itself: “To uplift people with the joyous sprit of the music. To play with joy, to swing and play the blues. These are the hallmarks of jazz that inspired me as a child. They are traditions that I continue to aspire to.”
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Fuller was playing professionally as a pre-teenager. The late eighties and early nineties found him working with vocal legend Ernestine Anderson as both pianist and musical director. After a noted stint with the celebrated West Coast-based drummer Jeff Hamilton, Fuller found fame with Ray Brown, performing with the bass boss until Brown’s passing. Fuller then became an integral member of John Pizzarelli’s ensembles for nearly a decade. (Among the other jazz notables that he has worked with are Stanley Turrentine, Harry “Sweets Edison,” Phil Woods, and Clark Terry.) Fuller has led the Larry Fuller Trio since 2013; he has released three albums as a leader since 2005.