Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tia Fuller, Jazz Composer and Innovator, Delights Audience at the Detroit International Jazz Festival

Tia Fuller Performs at Detroit International Jazz Festival

For more information on Tia Fuller just click on the web site below: http://tiafuller.com

PANW Editor's Note: One of the high points of this year's (2007) Detroit International Jazz Festival was the performance by Tia Fuller and her group on Monday, September 3. The all-woman quartet both impressed and thrilled the thousands who watched this spell-binding and high-energy concert.

Fuller recently released her second CD entitled: "Healing Space" on Mack Avenue Records, a pioneering Detroit-based record label specializing in Jazz music. This music is both compelling and refreshing and it signals future triumphs for Tia Fuller in the world of Jazz and modern music overall.

Below is a biographical sketch of Tia Fuller illustrating the tremendous accomplishments in so few years of professional life. Check out her web site at http://tiafuller.com for great music, information and photographs.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, PANW

Tia Fuller
(saxophonist, composer, educator)

“ Tia Fuller stakes her claim to being one of the finest new musicians on the scene, ” states Terrell Holmes in an All About Jazz review. Originating from a musical family, Fuller Sound , Tia began her music education in piano and flute at the early age of three. She has studied saxophone with Joe Jennings where she graduated Magna Cum Laude receiving her B.A. in Music from Spelman College. As the full time Teaching Assistant in Jazz Studies by directing Jazz Ensemble II and III and teaching improvisation, Tia has also received a Masters Degree (M.M.) in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado @ Boulder .

Later, studying with Wessell Anderson, Javon Jackson, Jesse Davis led her to perform with numerous jazz luminaries including, Ed Thigpen, Mikey Roker, Charles Fambrough, Tony Reedus, Benny Powell, Joe Ford, Ndugu Chancellor. Similarly, she has performed with big bands such as the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gerald Wilson Big Band, DIVA Jazz Orchestra and a featured artist with Don Byron in Stravinsky ’ s “ Ebony Concerto. ”

She has also been a featured artist in Jazz Improv Magazine “ Saxophone Edition ” (2004-2005), New York ’ s All About Jazz Magazine and Hot House. Other honors include her performances at the following: Detroit Jazz Festival, Jazz Fest Vien (Vienna, Austria), and the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Tia has also been the winner of 1999 IAJE ’ s Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Competition, a winner of Vail Jazz Party ’ s Young Talent All-Stars, featured in DOWNBEAT article for Up in Coming Musicians and chosen as TA/ Clinician for IAJEs Sister ’ s in Jazz Quintet (2000)

Over the past several years Tia has taught ensembles, master classes and lectures at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Duquesne University (lecture), Kansas State University (lecture), University of Colorado at Boulder Jazz Camp, University of Denver “ Colorado Jazz Workshop, ” and performed a week-long residency at Miami-Dade Community College where she served as a clinician/ guest artist in local middle school, high school and college ensembles. Tia was also selected as a guest artist/ clinician at Ohio State University ’ s “ Women in Jazz ” Symposium, a clinician at the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention (IAJE) and at Purchase College.

Currently, Tia extends her talents and expertise through serving as the director of Jazz Museum in Harlem: Harmony Ensemble. This year she will also be serving a two-week term as artist in residence at New Mexico State University (2006), where she will tour with a nonet and clinic local schools and colleges. Through her efforts to reach the younger generation, this fall Tia will be presenting a lecture/performance for WBGO ’ s Children Series.

Now residing in the New York Metropolitan area, Tia has released her “ exhilarating debut as a leader, Pillar of Strength “ (Holmes). In promoting this album, her quintet has been featured at the prestigious Lincoln Center ’ s Dizzy ’ s Club Coca-Cola , Spelman College, MIT as well as various New York Jazz clubs such as the Jazz Gallery, 55 bar, Pumpkins and Cecil ’ s. In addition, Tia has also recorded with Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, Sean Jones Quintet (Mack Avenue Records) featuring master artisits such as Ralph Peterson and Mulgrew Miller, the Brad Leali Big Band, the Miki Hayama Quintet, Kit McClure Big Band and rap artist Joe Budden.

On February 20, 2007, Tia relesed her sophomore album "Healing Space" as a Mack Ave Record artist, as well as touring nationally and internationally with the R&B star BEYONCE, promoting her most recent album "B-day." In addition, Tia remains an integral part of the jazz community in continuing to tour with the Ralph Peterson Sextet, Sean Jones quintet, T.S. Monk Septet, Rufus Reid Septet, as well as her own quintet in clubs, festivals and universities thoughtout the United States.


Call her a wide-eyed optimist, perhaps, but saxophonist/flutist and composer Tia Fuller truly believes that music can indeed serve as the perfect elixir, hence the title of her Mack Avenue Records debut, Healing Space, the follow-up to her independently released CD, Pillar of Strength. Conceived during a time of personal turmoil and transition, the disc explores themes of transgression, reflection and deliverance with 10 original compositions, seven of which were penned by Fuller. “ My prayer is that this album serve s as a healing agent for others and for people to feel uplifted when listening to it. To not only aid in one’s healing, but wholeness and restoration….inspiring one to relentlessly press toward a breakthrough into the next level,” she says.

An uplifting spirit ignites Healing Space from the get-go on “Breakthrough,” a bristling post-Motown bop excursion that not only highlights Fuller’s bold and sassy alto tone and serpentine-like improvisations but also her invigorating interaction with her band mates, especially trumpeter and label-mate Sean Jones, who has featured her on his three Mack Avenue discs, Roots, Gemini, and Eternal Journey. Her sanguinity sparkles on the following “Just a Journey,” a billowing mid-tempo groove, written by her sister Shamie Fuller-Royston, that shows that Fuller is just as commanding on the soprano saxophone as she is on alto. Fuller pulls another gem from big sis’ songbook with the R&B-laden ballad “Ebonics,” a tune that would fit nicely on a sophisticated, yet young-minded jazz radio format geared towards jazz listeners of the hip-hop generation. Except for the gentle and evocative “The Olive Leaf and Dove, written by Shamie and her drummer husband Rudy Royston, the remaining compositions are originals.

A 30-year-old jazz musician releasing a sophomore date absent of any standards is a bold move.

Citing Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis as significant compositional influences, Fuller excels at economizing – getting to the essence of her material then expressing it in an unmistakably lyrical and cogent manner. Just witness the poignant twin compositions – “Katrina’s Prayer” and “Katrina’s Lullaby” for evidence. The former proceeds like a gospel hymn as Fuller unravels a plaintive melody reminiscent of the kind heard in most black American churches; the latter exudes a tranquil quality as if she’s trying to soothe the physical and emotional scars of Hurricane Katrina’s victims. “I wanted to offer something,” Fuller says after witnessing the horrors of the catastrophe. “After sending a $70 donation to Red Cross, I felt like it wasn’t enough. At that time, I wanted to provide a comfort zone for victims, that were directly and indirectly affected by the hurricane.”

Other compositions like the Latin-tinged “Fertile Ground,” the introspective ballad “A Reason, A Season, A Life of Time” (featuring singer Charenee Wade) and the gospel-flavored “I Release Me…Unto You/Healing Space” (featuring singer Iyanna Wakefield) chart Fuller’s affirmation in cultivating and embracing the new, while surrendering, receiving and trusting in God’s will. She dedicates the surging, Kenny Garrett-esque “Blue Room in Mama’s Womb” to her mother. “I told my mom that I remember ed being in her womb and it was very blue and extremely comforting. Later to find out the color blue is symbolic of healing and devotion,” she says.

Fuller’s compositions are superbly executed by her working band – pianist Miki Hayama, bassist Miriam Sullivan and drummer Kim Thompson – three dynamic female jazz musicians she met at the International Association for Jazz Education Conference via its Sisters in Jazz Collegiate all-star group and jam sessions throughout New York. “The four of us have such an amazing chemistry in that we experience an innate connection which is internally driven” Fuller says, dispelling old stereotypes of female musicians not getting along. “We look out for each other; we have a sisterhood.” Percussionist Khalil Kwame Bell, Mack Avenue label-mate and tenor saxophonist Ron Blake, and Jones are guests on several tracks.

Curiously enough, Fuller and Thompson are also members of R&B superstar BeyoncĂ©’s all-female touring band, featured in BeyoncĂ©’s video, “Irreplaceable.”

The release of Healing Space on Mack Avenue Records seemed inevitable considering that Fuller was Sean Jones’ secret weapon on his discs. The two develop a spellbinding accord that is heard on “Breakthrough,” “Ebonics,” “Fertile Ground” and “The Olive Leaf and Dove.” Fuller met Jones in New York City in 2002, when she was playing a corporate R&B gig. They kept in touch, but didn’t start initially playing together until later that year, coincidentally at church and on another R&B date, “Live at Nuno’s.” Def Comedy night in New Jersey .

Prior to moving to New York City, Fuller grew up in Aurora, Colorado. Music filled her childhood as her parents were jazz musicians – her father plays bass; her mother sings. “From my earliest age, I remember hearing them rehearse in the basement of our house. I grew up hearing John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, and Charlie Parker. I didn’t understand it and didn’t really like it until I started playing saxophone and experiencing the music for myself,” she says. Also citing her piano-playing sister Shamie as an early influence, Fuller began playing piano at age 3 and continued studying classical piano until she was 13. During that time, she also began studying the flute. Her jazz curiosities sprouted while she entered middle school, but since there weren’t any flute parts for jazz band, she switched to saxophone.

After graduating from Gateway High School, Fuller attended Spelman College where she received her B.A. in Music for undergrad then the University of Colorado, where she earned a masters degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance in 2000. She took a year off before moving to Jersey City, incidentally just two days before the Sept. 11 terrorists’ attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “I thought it was an omen that I shouldn’t move out here,” she recalls. “Actually, the event forced me to hustle, because the word on the streets, in the jazz community, was that there was very little work. My first gig was playing in a big band at a fish fry in south Jersey.” It was that gig (along with many others) that led, Fuller to meet and reunite with musicians such as saxophonist Brad Leali, who at that time played in the Count Basie Orchestra. He circulated Fuller’s name as a skillful saxophonist capable of doubling on the flute in the jazz community, attracting the likes of T.S. Monk, Jon Faddis, Ralph Peterson, Jr., Nancy Wilson, Gerald Wilson, Don Byron, and Jesse Davis.

In addition to balancing a blossoming solo career with touring with the hottest diva in R&B, Fuller continues to be involved with music education by currently serving as the director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem’s “Harmony Ensemble.” She also conducts clinics, residencies, lectures and master classes at the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention (IAJE), Stanford Jazz Workshop, , Duquesne University , Kansas State University, University of Colorado at Boulder Jazz Camp, and conducted a two-week residency at New Mexico State University (and surrounding high schools) as a featured guest artist, adjudicator and clinician, among others.

Tia Fuller • Healing Space • Mack Avenue Records • Release date: February 20, 2007

For more information, please contact Steph Brown at DL Media
(p) 610.667.0501 (e) stephdlmedia@covad.net

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