All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

855

Tia Fuller: Stepping Forward Decisively

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
For saxophonist Tia Fuller, becoming a musician, and concentrating on jazz, seems almost preordained. After all, she came from a musical family who loved and performed jazz. She started playing piano at the age of 3. Music has always been in her life.

Then there's that family video where, at age 9, asked what she wanted to do in her life, she tells her father she wants to play the saxophone.



"That's the only reason I knew what I said, because I saw it (on the video). Even though it was over three years later that I picked up the saxophone. It's interesting that at 9 I knew that I wanted to play the saxophone," says Fuller, laughing. "It just took me a while to get there."

Get there she did, studying jazz in college, then going to from her Colorado home to New York City to meet musicians and carve out a career. She's done well so far, adding her glistening alto saxophone sound to a variety of settings with the likes of Sean Jones, T.S. Monk and others. She has also connected with the big-time popular music world, doing a tour as part of Beyoncé's all-female band.

But she remains grounded in the jazz world, as evidenced by her new recording Decisive Steps, her second for the Mack Avenue label. It's a strong album, played with zest and fire by Fuller's all-female band with special guests like Christian McBride and trumpeter Jones.

"My roots are in jazz, so I definitely do consider myself a jazz person," she says. "But I'm not just limited to jazz. I grew up playing in some funk bands and wedding bands ... I am a musician, but my roots are in jazz."

Her latest CD showcases not only her sharp playing, but her writing skills. It also is a step in her progression as a musician and a person, she says. The titles of her three CDs as a leader deliberately reflect her strong, move-forward philosophy. Her debut CD was Pillar of Strength (Wambui, 2005), her second Healing Space (Mack Avenue, 2007).

Decisive Steps comes from a song lyric she wrote that, in part, says: "pursuit of dreams, decisive steps/ will bring you to your victory yet," and it jumped out to her as the theme for the new album.

"I really wanted to write something that reflected seeing beyond the obvious and really pushing yourself, taking aggressive and strategic steps forward in our purpose as human beings, whatever our purpose is ... taking steps in faith and not fear," says Fuller.

"It's definitely intentional that all of the album titles are affirmative. They are titles that, on a daily basis, I go back through and try to use them as affirmations," says Fuller. "To be a pillar of strength. To also be in a space of healing and restoration. And now, I'm in a state of really moving forward and trying to press through it all, no matter what's going on ... pushing forward toward the light and my purpose and all of the goals that I'm trying to achieve.

"Not only do I want to make music, but I think it's important that as musicians we inspire. It's our obligation, really, to inspire and help other people in life. We're all human beings. I think we all can use encouragement. I just pray that this album can be encouraging to myself and also to other people. Right now, I can feel that it has, which is great. I'm going to continue to go in that direction."

The CD bursts out of the jewel case with the title cut, a song that burns, then changes texture. Fuller gets a chance to flex her bop chops, as well as deftly negotiate the changes with her invigorating and expressive attack. Pianist Shamie Royston, Fuller's sister, also dazzles over the pulsing rhythm of drummer Kim Thompson and bassist Miriam Sullivan. The song came from the mind of Fuller, but it stymied even her for a bit.

"I actually had to grow to like that one because it was so complex. When we recorded it, we did about 10 takes of it because we hadn't played it. I had just finished the song a day or two before the recording session. It's such a complicated melody, the time changes," she says. "It has to grow on you. But I like it now."

The songs are varied. "Kissed by the Sun" has a Latin tinge. "Night Glow" and "Clear Mind" have a ¾ time vibe. There are a couple of standards, "I Can't Get Started" and "My Shining Hour," and one selection, "Windsoar" penned by Royston which features some scorching trumpet by Jones, one of today's brilliant trumpet voices and someone with whom Fuller has been playing for nearly a decade. Fuller's sax also blisters through the various changes.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Angelic Warrior

Mack Avenue Records
2013

buy
Angelic Warrior

Angelic Warrior

Mack Avenue Records
2012

buy
Decisive Steps

Decisive Steps

Mack Avenue Records
2010

buy
Healing Space

Healing Space

Mack Avenue Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Nik Bärtsch: Possibility in Paradox Interviews
Nik Bärtsch: Possibility in Paradox
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached Interviews
Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Camille Bertault: Unity in Diversity Interviews
Camille Bertault: Unity in Diversity
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: April 10, 2018
Read Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education Interviews
Chad Taylor: Myths and Music Education
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 9, 2018
Read Fabian Almazan: Multilayered Vision Interviews
Fabian Almazan: Multilayered Vision
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: March 30, 2018
Read Ryuichi Sakamoto: Naturally Born to Seek Diversity Interviews
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Naturally Born to Seek Diversity
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 27, 2018
Read "Remembering John Abercrombie" Interviews Remembering John Abercrombie
by Craig Jolley
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound" Interviews Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Terri Hinte: Co-Creating the Image of Jazz" Interviews Terri Hinte: Co-Creating the Image of Jazz
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Rufus Reid: Composer, Educator, Bassist, Gait Keeper… And Prophet" Interviews Rufus Reid: Composer, Educator, Bassist, Gait...
by David Hadley Ray
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle" Interviews Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy" Interviews Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy
by Luca Canini
Published: October 20, 2017