U.S. Street Date 09/25/12 - International Release 09/11/12
Move over guys, in the predominantly male dominated role of tenor saxophonist we have a relatively new shooter to the table by the name of Tia Fuller and her latest offering Angelic Warrior set to drop on 09/25/12. To borrow a line from the movie Bull Durham, she announces her presence with authority!
I first took notice of Fuller with her outstanding work on Ralph Peterson's Duality Perspective released earlier this year. Peterson who is known as a jazz warrior and one of the ultimate task masters in music only adds to the credibility of Fuller and her impressive resume. Most people think of a Candy Dulfer or Mindi Abair when they think of a woman playing sax and while both Dulfer and Abair are fine players, Fuller's music is light years ahead of the post modern contemporary "hold music" you find with the previously mentioned smooth jazz players, thus the aptly titled Angelic Warrior.
A somewhat conceptualized personal recording finds Fuller paying homage to family, friends and music mentors such as Ralph Peterson Jr. who is the inspiration for "Ralphie's Groove" a smoldering number with an infectious back beat that is actually a respectful riff on Peterson's "Surrender" which was a most ingenious fusion of Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana" and the Tony Williams number "Sister Cheryl." Keeping it all in the family we find the opener "Royston's Rumble" as a celebration of the love and admiration of her sister Shamie Royston who plays piano here as well as her brother in law who is the much over looked and under appreciated drummer Rudy Royston who for me as a critic is my musical easy button. A touching celebration of love and family that work in a business well known for being less than accommodating to either. The title track "Angelic Warrior" drawn from the Grammy winning Terri Lyne Carrington recording The Mosaic Project and the seemingly often recorded (as of late) Beatles "Blackbird." The conceptualized idea behind this particular tune is to portray the angel in us all with the beautiful melody but the military style beat infused into the drums as a reminder of the "warrior" element sometimes necessary to push through those time that demand the fight of flight portion of our human nature. Carrington is credited in particular as the inspiration for this tune do largely in part to her dedication that blazed a most significant trail for other female musicians in particular to follow.
The ultimate message if one can call it that is one of balance both in our personal and professional lives. After a five year stint working with Beyonce's band the application of both the pop influence coupled with the seamless transition to and with jazz sensibilities is a thing of beauty. As a player,Fuller plays with a natural aggression more commonly associated with her male contemporaries. Fuller also has the mad skills to work without a harmonic net while maintaining a dynamic lyrical sense of purpose. The aesthetic on Angelic Warrior is that much like I have said before, old school making that transition to new school and doing it oh so well. An individual hybrid of the traditional and contemporary that pushes the music if not her own artistry forward.
Tracks: Royston's Rumble; Ralphie's Groove; Angelic Warrior; Lil Lies; Body And Soul; Decend To Barbados; Ode To Be (Interlude); So In Love; Tailor Made; Core Of Me; Simplicity; Cherokee; Ode To Be (Outro).
Personnel: Tia Fuller: alto sax, soprano sax, flute; Shamie Royston: piano, fender rhodes; Mimi Jones: acoustic bass; Rudy Royston: drums; Shirazette Tinnin: percussion ( 2,6,9).
Terri Lyne Carrington: drums (3,8,12); John Patitucci: electric, piccolo bass (1,2,4,6,9) acoustic bass (8); Dianne Reeves: vocals (5).
Photo Credit - Keith Major.