Swing is the musical manifestation of forward motion. To achieve one’s goals, one must take giant steps. Today’s modern musicians at the change of the 21st century are moving miles ahead, advancing the jazz continuum, while remaining open and engaged in other musical inventions and dimensions. The astonishingly gifted, Colorado-born, alto / soprano saxophonist / flautist Tia Fuller is such an artist. She is at home at all points of the musicversefrom her show-stopping solos as a member of superstar Beyoncé’s all-female band, to her scintillatingly swinging jazz dates and recordings. Her newest Mack Avenue release Decisive Steps, is the long-awaited follow-up to her 2007 label debut Healing Space. It features her Beyoncé bandmate, drummer Kim Thompson; bassist Miriam Sullivan; Fuller’s sister, Shamie Royston on piano and Fender Rhodes; with special guests, trumpeter Sean Jones and bassist Christian McBride (both Mack Avenue label mates); vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.
“It’s a continuation of Healing Space, evolving from a stationary place of healing to steps of action,” Fuller says. “I’ve been in the mindset of really moving forward to the next level in my life, constantly being in the mindset of greatness, relentless in my pursuit and progressing with purpose by embracing my talents, recognizing my strengths and improving upon my weaknesses…but also in not being afraid of change; stepping forward in faith and not in fear.”
Indeed, the ten tracks on this sumptuous CD aurally illustrate Fuller’s artistic fearlessness fulfilled by her agile, buoyant and elegant full-bodied sax lines effortlessly improvising a number of moods and grooves, as evidenced by the take-no-prisoners tempo of the title track. “The first track, ‘Decisive Steps,’ was one of the last songs that I wrote for the album,” Fuller says. “This particular song is very intricateit has a lot of hits and time changes, so, compositionally, I wanted to portray a sonic representation of momentum; in moving forward, and really feature everybody in the quartet.” Royston’s Icarusian “Windsoar” highlights she and her sister’s telepathic compositional bond. “We have a way of writing, where our songs are almost seamless,” Fuller says. “It’s funny; when Shamie started writing ‘Windsoar,’ it begins with a melody surrounded by a concert B-flat, and I was like, ‘Shamie…I just started writing ‘Clear Mind’ with the same concept of the harmonies surrounding the melody of the B-flat.’ We were writing in the same light of each other. We didn’t talk about it; it was intuitive.”