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 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 serves 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," Fuller 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."
With Healing Space, saxophonist/ flutist / composer Tia Fuller continues to build on the buzz she's created with her high profile performances in New York City. With a busy schedule that includes touring with pop sensation Beyonce Knowles, an ongoing role as educator and mentor, and being an "in demand" session player, Fuller finds time here to return to her first love; jazz.
On Healing Space, her Mack Avenue debut, Fuller is backed by a seasoned team of young, talented players including Miki Hayama (Piano & Keyboards), Miriam Sullivan (bass), Kim Thompson (drums), Khalil Kwame Bell (percussion), and Mack Avenue label mates Sean Jones and Ron Blake.
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