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Keep Hope Alive

Jeff Fuller & Friends

Jeff Fuller, bass • Darren Litzie, piano •

Ben Bilello, drums


The newest and latest (2022) jazz release from Jeff Fuller & Friends is “Keep Hope Alive,” a collection of tunes that developed and percolated during two years of a global pandemic. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the new CD will go to Ukrainian war relief efforts. 

     The song titles themselves tell a lot of the story: Keep Hope Alive, Some Night Music, Breathing On A Bike, Small World, A Change of Plans, Come What May, Sad Samba, Thrivin’ and Survivin’ … and so on.  This music has percolated through two years of a global pandemic. Our plans were changed and our lives were altered as quarantines and the collapse of work left us virtually imprisoned in our own small worlds for much of the time.  With ‘nobody else but me’ to turn to for what seemed like days and weeks at a time, I practiced, composed, taught students and ensembles online… and rode my bike as often as I could, breathing in the fresh New England air. Some of the trio tunes that came out of this period project a feeling of night music and sad samba. But ultimately in true New England spirit we were able to thrive, survive and keep hope alive!

Keep Hope Alive - Jeff Fuler & Friends
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Round & Round

Jeff Fuller & Friends

Jeff Fuller, bass • Darren Litzie, piano •

Ben Bilello, drums

A 2020 jazz release from Jeff Fuller & Friends, “Round & Round,” is now available through

this website and online at CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon. Jeff Fuller's bass playing and his original jazz

compositions are heard on the group’s 4th CD release since 2014, Jeff Fuller & Friends provide thoughtful

and engaging original jazz compositions in an intimate piano trio setting.  "Round & Round" features Fuller's

virtuosic bass playing, pianist Darren Litzie's inventive improvisations, and drummer Ben Bilello's great soloing

and accompaniment.  Beautifully recorded by Norman Johnson, the trio explores all new territory on such

compositions as "Round & Round," "Rest, Dear," "Sambeleza,” and the classically oriented "Never So Long,"

which features Fuller's bowed upright bass.  This is music made for listening, so settle back and enjoy the journey!

Round & Round - Jeff Fuller & Friends
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Shoreline Blues

Jeff Fuller & Friends

Jeff Fuller, bass • Darren Litzie, piano •

Ben Bilello, drums

The history of the jazz piano/bass/drums trio is an encyclopedia of many volumes and entries. Remarkable bassist/composer Jeff Fuller’s new CD Shoreline Blues is an outstanding new contribution to that storied legacy, building upon the foundation he laid with his acclaimed 2015 release The Call From Within. The trio – called Jeff Fuller & Friends – was established in 2014 with pianist Darren Litzie and drummer Ben Bilello, and over that time has established that special level of synergy that results in seemingly telepathic interplay.  That empathy is in full evidence on every track of Shoreline Blues.


Jeff formed the trio “to perform new, original music which re-invents timeless jazz styles with new vision and creativity” and indeed they succeed wonderfully.  Individually these three men have performed with a veritable who’s who of both contemporary and legendary jazz. Together they form an entity unto itself under the strong, embracing vision of its award-winning leader, whose resumé includes long stints with Lou Donaldson and Paquito D'Rivera. It is somewhat unusual for a bassist to lead a trio like this, but that emphasis sets an ideal canvas for the type of interactive communication and creative development that is so essential for great jazz expression.

The Call From Within

Jeff Fuller & Friends

Jeff Fuller, bass • Darren Litzie, piano •

Ben Bilello, drums

This music has gestated in my heart, soul and mind for a long, long time. It has emerged as the end product of years of performing, arranging and composing jazz in its many styles, languages and forms.  My distinguished colleagues and friends, Darren Litzie on piano and Ben Bilello on drums, were more than up to the task of contributing their own colors, vocabularies and voices.  We have worked together many times over the years in clubs and concerts, but I can’t thank them enough for learning, rehearsing, performing and recording this creative project.  My longtime friend Norman Johnson, in whose studio we recorded, was an equally skillful and creative partner in capturing the essence of the music.


Several of the tunes are so-called contrafacts – new melodies composed over existing harmony from a standard tune.  But more often than not, I have tweaked the original feel of the song in my own way. The rest of the tunes were composed from scratch, from influences as wide as Broadway show tunes, bebop, Latin music, and even Indian raga.  The title tune, The Call From Within, was composed at the piano, so I played it on Norman Johnson’s beautiful Steinway.  The title captures a thought I once had, “Don’t wait for the call… the call comes from within!”  It’s an apt description of why I felt compelled to release my first CD of all original music.  Thanks for listening!

Montage from CD - The Call From Within
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"The Call From Within is a lengthy exposition in the time-honored piano trio format... and it is a pleasure to hear [Fuller's] voice as a composer filtered through so many facets of the jazz tradition across the tunes — from samba and Latin jazz to some ballad-like touches and a few good jazz waltzes, with a little bebop and postbop harmonic sensibility sprinkled throughout."   --- Adam Matlock, New Haven Independent


"'Within' dazzles listeners with every piano chord pressed, string plucked, and easy going tap of a cymbal." --- Abigail Adams, International Musician



Jeff Fuller & Friends

Jeff Fuller, bass • Darren Litzie, piano •

Ben Bilello, drums • Atla DeChamplain, vocal. 

‘Happenstance’ by definition means a fortuitous coincidence; an unusually good event that arises by chance.

On this album, happenstance means a blending of improvisation and composition resulting in some truly great

moments of both planned inspiration and spontaneous coincidence.  The musical language of each player has

merged ever closer on this, the group’s third album since 2014.  Totally tuned in to each other’s thoughts, we are

comfortable and at ease with the joyful and intense process of creating challenging music together.


Jeff Fuller & Friends is made up of Jeff Fuller on bass, Darren Litzie on piano, and Ben Bilello on drums.  The classic jazz trio format gives rise to and makes room for many delightful moments of serendipitous exchange.  In no small part this is due to listening – each member of the trio evidently hears the conversation as a whole while adding their own thoughts to the process.  The result is an emotional, intelligent and lucid story that carries through from the first note to the last.


The songs are a mixture of original compositions by Jeff and Darren, as well as a couple of standards re-arranged in the trio’s unique style.  “Happenstance,” the title tune, is offered twice: in a new instrumental version (it was included in the 2014 release “The Call From Within”), and in a vocal version featuring Connecticut’s outstanding young jazz vocalist, Atla DeChamplain, interpreting the fresh lyrics by vocalist Ellynne Rey.

Darren Litzie offers “Nice Try” which features drummer Ben Bilello, and a remarkable update of “Cry Me A River.”  Fuller’s newest compositions include “Will O’The Wisp,” the beautiful ballad “See The Light,” and the powerful samba “Manhã de Primavera.”  The beboppish “Upside Down” is one of his older compositions (1992).


A solo piano version of “Scorpio” is dedicated to Fuller’s mother, who was, of course, a Scorpio.  When you throw in an Afro-Cuban version of Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are,” Fuller’s folksy “Grandstand” and the Brazilian “SambaNova,” you have a marvelous mixture of melodies, harmonies and rhythms – a potent setting for true improvisational happenstance.

Happenstance (vocal) - Jeff Fuller & Friends
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Angola - Jeff FUller & Friends
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The keen musicianship on display throughout is nearly flawless, both in each player’s proficiency on his instrument and in his chemistry with the other band members. The musicians’ skill is matched by an unfussy, crystal-clear production.”  Brian Slattery, New Haven Independent.

Montage from CD - Sambeleza ~ Live!
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Sambeleza ~ Live!


Isabella Mendes, piano & vocals  •  Jeff Fuller, bass & vocals  •  Joe Carter, violão With guests, Ali Ryerson, flute  •  Adriano Santos, drums  •  Zé Mauricio, percussion.


“… sveltely swinging Brazilian jazz … bosses of bossa nova”  --- Owen McNally, Hartford Courant


    The new Sambeleza Live! CD is here!  It is available at our Sambeleza website – through CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. Or you can pick it up at any of my gigs, or any of Sambeleza’s.  Send me an email request, or in writing to P. O. Box 120717, East Haven CT 06512. 

    The CD was recorded at the Summer Solstice Samba (6/21/14), sponsored by WPKN and Voices Café at the Unitarian Church in Westport.  Crackling good Brazilian jazz!

    Some titles: Madalena, Só Tinha de Ser Com Voce, Blame Destiny,  Só Danço Samba,  Da Licença, Estate, Batida Diferente,  A Rã, Wave... and the list goes on!

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