Celebrating his new album Overjoyed, pianist Larry Fuller returned to the KNKX studios to play a few songs and talk about his working trio, his partners on the new album, and feeling good at the piano.
Overjoyed was sparked by Fuller’s occasional collaborations with drummer Lewis Nash, he told us. “We had kind of an agreement to try to get together and record,” says Fuller, also noting the participation of his friend, bassist Hassan Shakur. “He’s a real disciple of Ray Brown,” Fuller says, remembering his role as the last pianist in the great bassman’s trio.
Fuller hopes to record his next album with the trio he brought back to Seattle, bassist George DeLancey and drummer Jason Tiemann. He told us the frequent playing of these three has brought new energy to his music. The feeling’s mutual, as both DeLancey and Tiemann sang the pianist’s praises as a player, band leader, and showman.
The new album includes a smart collection of standards, songs by his jazz mentors, and a pair of terrific original compositions. One of those, “Jane’s Theme,” was written for his wife and manager. “I think she likes it,” Fuller said, laughing. “I’m very fortunate. Jane’s my partner, but she’s a great business person and just helps me so much with my career.”
The other original is “The Mooch,” not to be confused with the Duke Ellington big band classic with an extra “e” on the end. Fuller wrote the song for the family patriarch, a mini dachshund named Miles who used to watch Fuller’s practice sessions for hours on end. When little Miles begged for food, he always knew Fuller would be an easy mark.
The trio also performed Ray Brown’s “Lined with a Groove” in our studios, in a classic swinging blues tempo. DeLancey shined brightly in Brown’s place and Tiemann provided a spirited backbeat. The rhythm section sounded like an extension of Fuller’s piano. They do make a powerful unit.
With the classic “Cubano Chant” by pianist Ray Bryant, Larry Fuller’s trio brought this second of his KNKX studio sessions to a rollicking, spirited conclusion.
“I try to bring joy to people and connect, and hopefully uplift people with my music,” Fuller says. It’s clear he’s learned plenty from his experiences as a sideman with Brown, Ernestine Anderson, Jeff Hamilton and the John Pizzarelli band. Just open your ears to the Larry Fuller trio and you’ll be overjoyed, too.