Curtis Fuller, one of the most influential trombonists in jazz whose career spanned nearly 70 years, has died. He was 88.

One of the forefathers of the jazz trombone, Fuller was a key part of classic jazz recordings with John Coltrane, Count Basie, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and many others. In addition to his career-defining work as a sideman, Fuller recorded more than two dozen albums as a leader between 1957 and 2018.

A trombonist with a deep, rich tone, Fuller was steeped in bebop and took the instrument’s technique to a new level. His ability to play fast, intricate lines and solos on what had traditionally been seen as the unwieldy slide trombone set him apart from everyone else and opened up a world of possibilities.

JAZZ.FM91 host John Devenish has written that Fuller’s playing was “inventive, wry and articulate,” with a tone that was “expressive and deeply rich.”

His death on May 8 was confirmed by his daughter, Mary Fuller. The cause of death was not disclosed.