The long career of clarinetist Jerry Fuller includes an intriguing series of recordings under his name, an extended collaboration with the great trombonist Jack Teagarden, and in Fuller's senior years participation in the prophetic Style Is Back in Style combo. Fuller's name if often linked with traditional Dixieland stylings -- for example, he was the longest-living member of the original Dukes of Dixieland band -- but like fellow clarinetist Pee Wee Russell he is known for modernizing whatever context he plays in, importantly without creating discomfort for other members of the ensemble.
Not to be confused with an Albertan modern jazz drummer nor the Texan rock performer and producer of the same name, Fuller hailed from California and began playing clarinet as a youngster. In 1949 he joined the band of Jimmy Zito, played the next year with Will Osborne, and then was in the reed section of Uncle Sam's army through 1953. Following several years with Pete Daily's Chicagoans, Fuller started up his own trio in Hollywood but then found the employment offered by Teagarden much more inviting. His four years with the latter outfit involved a lengthy tour of Asia sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Fuller began working with the Dukes of Dixieland in 1959, appearing on the group's sides on the Audio Fidelity label.
The clarinetist's recordings on his own include productions on major labels including Capitol, Columbia, and Decca. He did a great deal of playing on the popular variety shows of '60s television, fitting into pit bands for The Dean Martin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show, among others. Fuller often picks a stylistic concept to cloak an album project: examples include South American Cookin' in 1961, a collection of hit record themes the same year, and the swing versions of traditional holiday music presented by Style Is Back in Style for the 2004 Christmas Is for Us Kids release.