|October 15, 2012|
Release Date: 09/28/12
Record Label: Mack Avenue
Review By: Asha Brodie
On her latest release, Tia strikes a chord with tastefully composed tracks that are seeded in straight ahead jazz; a compilation that Tia dedicates to the special people in her life.
The CD opens with “Royston Rumble”, a festive piece that is dedicated to Tia’s sister Shamie and her husband Rudy. Tia said the track celebrates the couple’s un-conditional love for each other in a marriage that spans two decades.
“Ralphie’s Groove” dedicated to drummer Ralph Peterson Jr. would have you moving your hips involuntarily; it is said to be a hybrid of Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana” and Tony Williams’ “Sister Cheryl.”
The sweetness and fluidity of Tia’s sax floats within a militant shuffle on the title track “Angelic Warrior” which also blends in a bit of the Beatles “Blackbird” and Terri Lyne Carrington’s “Mosaic Triad.”
“Lil Les” is the CD’s first ballad, a track that is beautiful and soothing to the soul. Perhaps this was the intent of the single since it was written and dedicated to Tia’s friend’s then unborn child Lesleigh.
Dianna Reeves pops in to lend her sweet and soulful vocals to the upbeat and joyful “Body and Soul”, which Tia dedicated to her parents.
Other shining moments on this compilation include “Descend to Barbados”, the playful “So In Love With All of You”, the latter a slight resemblance to Thelonious Monk’s Evidence.”
We had a chance to talk to Tia more about her latest CD and of course upcoming projects.
SJM: Tia, first I want to thank you for making time to speak with us. Congratulations on your new release, the CD is pretty darn good, how does it differ from your last compilation?
Tia: Well on this CD I actually expanded on an idea which I think I presented beautifully. It differs from what I did on the track "Ebb and Flow" from the "Decisive Steps" CD where I incorporated the electric bass and acoustic bass and celebrated both instruments. On this CD, I had John Patitucci on the piccolo bass which actually sounds like a guitar. I usually share the front-line with the trumpet; this time I use the electric bass as a horn player and rhythm section.
SJM: What is the inspiration behind the CD?
Tia: You know, it was really when I stopped and look around, I thought about two things that inspired me to record this CD. To be honest, there are people in my life that I call my angels and warriors and I have attributed compositions to different people in my life that have helped to pave the way. I am also celebrating angelic warriors within myself like in my life and career and when I’m trying to write and tour with different bands. So I pull from both energies: the angelic and peaceful side and the determination of warrior spirits. I balance those two energies and embrace them.
SJM: Very nice. I read someplace that two members of your family are performing on this CD. Tell us what it’s like to perform with them. Would you say it was easier working with your sister and brother-in-law?
Tia: It’s funny because I’ve been working with them all my life as musicians and we get along so well; that’s my comfort zone. A lot of people ask that question about touring too. I love working and recording with them. We have a close family. My mom raised us to be very close; we have a really good relationship. I embrace the fact that I am able to work with them. It is a blessing to do this so frequently especially given our busy schedule.
SJM: Do they have a creative input on this compilation?
Tia: Definitely a creative input. They serve as …I guess you can call them the back of my ideas while I’m at the front (of my ideas) so musically they do have an input. My sister usually contributes her songs to my CDs, but not on this CD. However they always give their perspective on different parts of the music.
SJM: Tia, let’s go back a bit to when you started playing music. How old were you and why did you choose the sax?
Tia: I got into music when I was three years old. My mom started my sister and myself on the piano and that was just the foundation for the music. Having come from a musical family, we weren’t force to play. I played the flute for a while and in middle school I knew I wanted to play the sax. So when I got to seventh grade I made the transition from the flute to the sax when I joined the school band. I chose the sax because it was similar to the flute which I already had.
SJM: Who were some of your earlier musical influences?
Tia: I would say Cannonball Adderley; I started learning his music then John Coltrane’s music in college. I would say those two specifically back then. Then Charlie Parker, Joe Henderson and Kenny Garrett.
SJM: Finally tell us about upcoming tours and projects?
Tia: I have been playing with Teri Lyne Carrington with the Mosaic Project and have also been performing with Esperanza Spalding with the Radio Music Society. I also plan to play more in a trio setting with just the bass, sax and drums. I’m hoping to have Teri Lyne for the drums on that project and I also hope to resume teaching at Berkelee College more frequently.
Also I just finished working with Teri Lyne on her upcoming CD “Money Jungle” which is a remake of Duke Ellington’s music. She did a great production of Duke’s CD of the same name and it features pianist Gerald Clayton, Christian McBride on bass, Lizz Wright on vocals and some other guests. The CD is scheduled to be released in February 2013.
SJM: Oh I heard her talking about that in an interview recently. She had said that her version deviates from the original by a mile.
Tia: Yes, she reworked Duke Ellington’s music and I have a feeling that it would earn her a Grammy award because what she did is so refreshing and of course because of the history of the music.
Saxophonist Tia Fuller was literally out of breath when we caught up with her upon leaving the gym earlier this week. It is obvious that Tia keeps a good fitness regimen; her photo on her CD cover is evidence enough of how her workouts are paying off. Musically, Tia is also in winning mode, her latest CD “Angelic Warrior” has quickly become a “must-have” in any jazz collection.
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