Bob Brookmeyer plays valve trombone, Curtis Fuller the slide version of the horn. The former has earned not-undeserved fame as soloist with Gerry Mulligan and others; the latter, who has played with Basie, Gillespie and Coltrane, remains in relative obscurity, notwithstanding his enormous talents. At the Smithsonian Saturday night, Fuller's set was straight-ahead and bebop-based; Brookmeyer's abstract and "experimental."
Fuller's tone ranges from the velvet smooth of ballad crooning to the rough-edged blasts of circus horn, and his speed is of the sort that doesn't seem possible on the instrument. On his own "Corrida del Torro," the bull was introduced in mournful, high register over the flamenco pizzicato of bassist Walter Booker. "Up Jumped Spring" and "Blue 'n Boogie" indicated Fuller's wide acquaintance with other aspects of the jazz tradition. iPianist Cedar Walton and drummer Jimmy Cobb contributed.
Brookmeyer, ably assisted by pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Marc Johnson and master drummer Mel Lewis, executed slips, slides, rips, wheezes, slurs, abrupt stops and starts, and aborted and faded out lines on "I Hear a Rapsody," the four musicians at times going their diverse ways, some dropping in and out as the piece built to a hard-driving toe-tapper, Johnson's horn-like lines uncannily simulated Brookmeyer's resonance and, on several pieces, he nearly upstaged the leader.