Over the years, Curtis Fuller has recorded the majority of his albums in New York City. But when the veteran trombonist visited Chicago for the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2003, he joined forces with several Windy City musicians (including Karl Montzka on piano, Larry Gray or Stewart Miller on bass, and Tim Davis on drums) and recorded Up Jumped Spring for Bob Koester's Chicago-based Delmark label. Trumpeter Brad Goode (who was a fixture on the Chi-Town jazz scene before moving to Cincinnati in 1997) is also on board, as is singer Jacey Falk (who produced the album). Fuller (who was 68 when he recorded Up Jumped Spring) was one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in his younger days, and not surprisingly, a strong Jazz Messengers influence asserts itself on these hard bop and post-bop performances -- the Jazz Messengers influence is impossible to miss on hard-swinging performances of John Coltrane's "Equinox" and Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," as well as Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and Benny Golson's "Whisper Not." Goode, thankfully, is featured extensively, and Falk (a promising jazz singer with a strong R&B influence) has a memorable spot on Jessie Mae Robinson's "Black Night" (the only vocal offering on this mostly instrumental disc). One wishes that instead of paying so much attention to overdone standards, Fuller had surprised us with some lesser-known gems on this CD -- a song doesn't have to be a standard to be great. Nonetheless, the trombonist is in fine form throughout the album -- he never fails to sound inspired and focused -- and Up Jumped Spring is a welcome addition to his catalog.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson