Trombonist Curtis Fuller's recordings for Savoy in the 1950s, like those of labelmates Hank Mobley, Milt Jackson, Wilbur Harden, Donald Byrd, and others, were prototypes in the development of hard bop. The next stage would come with the subsequent work of many of the same artists for Blue Note, where improved recording technique, greater attention to writing and arranging, and a more generous policy with respect to preparation and rehearsal time helped bring in the classic hard bop era of the late '50s and early '60s. On Fuller's Jazz…It's Magic, the hard bop prototype is still under refinement, but it's easy to enjoy the music in its essential elements: elegant, bluesy melodies; earthy, yet sophisticated, solo work; and fresh treatments of standards.
The title certainly gets it right – as the set's one of the best (and one of the few) albums that trombonist Curtis Fuller cut in the 70s – a searingly sharp session that really shows a change from some of his Blue Note modes of the 60s! There's a current of righteous energy that moves through the set – and which maybe ties the sound more strongly to the sort of underground soul jazz work being recorded by the Black Jazz label of the period, or maybe like some of the hipper currents over at Prestige – such as Joe Henderson's albums. George Cables plays electric piano on the record – which already sets it apart from Fuller's earlier material – and the tracks are long, loose, and open – and graced with strong solo work from Bill Hardman on trumpet, Ray Moros on tenor, and Bill Washer on guitar. Yet perhaps strongest of all in shaping the record is the work of the rhythm duo Stanley Clarke on bass and Lenny White on drums – both working together here at an early point in their careers, but already hinting at the greatness to come. A very different album for Curtis Fuller.