Nov 7, 2011
Saxophonist Tia Fuller definitely leaves an impression. Influenced by legends such as Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, and John Coltrane, her playing is dynamic and fluid as she navigates the trickiest of lines with a tone that is rich and meaty. It’s a sound that works well in the modern brand of straight-ahead bebop she writes for her quartet, but Fuller is also flexible enough to play in Beyoncé’s all-woman touring band, the Suga Mamas.
In demand as a session player with top talent like long-time friends E.J. Strickland and Sean Jones, Ms. Fuller has released her latest CD as a leader, Decisive Steps on Mack Avenue Records. As the title suggests, it represents a bolder statement on her part as composer and player that her previous work, as she begins to stake out her place in the straight-ahead jazz world.
Ms. Fuller is the Billy Taylor Jazz Residency Artist at the University of Massachusetts beginning November 14, 2011. She will lead master classes, participate in a panel discussion on the state of women in jazz with filmmaker Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, and give a concert Wednesday, November 16, 7:30pm, at Bowker Auditorium at the school.
I spoke with Tia recently about her latest CD, how she goes about crafting songs, and her view on the cracking “glass ceiling” that exists for women in music today. Click here to listen to the conversation, along with musical selections including:
Tia Fuller – “Release Me/Healing Space” from Healing Space. This 2007 release showed Ms. Fuller’s promise as a player of great breadth. Backing her on the closing tracks from the CD are her several of her favorite players, including Miki Hayama on piano and keyboards; Miriam Sullivan on bass; Kim Thompson on drums; Kahlil Kwame Bel on: percussion; and Charenee Wade, and Iyana Wakefield on vocals. Guest stars on the Cd include Sean Jones on trumpet; and Ron Blake on tenor saxophone.
Tia Fuller – Title track from Decisive Steps. This exceptional CD allows Ms. Fuller to stretch herself as a player, arranger and writer. Band members are Ms. Thompson on drums; Ms. Sullivan on bass; Shamie Royston on piano and Fender Rhodes, with guest appearances from Jones: on trumpet; mentor and friend Christian McBride on bass; and Warren Wolf on vibraphone.
Tia Fuller – “Ebb & Flow” from Decisive Steps. One of my favorite tracks from the CD was written by Ms. Fuller after conversations with old friends at her college reunion made her think about the cycles of life.
Sean Jones – “Gullyism” from Eternal Journey. Jones and Ms. Fuller are long-time friends and collaborators, so much so that Ms. Fuller contributed this tune to kick off this Jones album in 2004. Personnel are Jones on trumpet; Charles Fambrough on bass; Ralph Peterson on Drums; Tia Fuller on saxophones and flute; and Mulgrew Miller on piano.
E.J. Strickland – “Illusions” from In This Day. The talented drummer tabbed Ms. Fuller to play flute on his debut CD as a bandleader, joining Jaleel Shaw on alto sax; Marcus Strickland on tenor sax; Luis Perdomo on piano; Hans Glawischnig on bass; and Pedro Martinez on Congas.