Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Tia Fuller makes strong statements with her solid saxophone and imaginative compositions in Decisive Steps. She surrounds herself here with female musician - drummer Kim Thompson, bassist Miriam Sullivan, and pianist Shamie Royston, who also plays Fender Rhodes. Prominent as well, are male guest stars: bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Sean Jones, and vibraphonist Warren Wolf.
This is Fuller's second Mack Avenue release following 2007's Healing Space. Excelling in all the reeds, she prominently displays her alto and soprano work here. It is obvious as she reveals in the liner notes, that her strongest influence is Cannonball Adderley. But she also looks toJohn Coltrane for inspiration and her solos throughout are gems of improvisation.
Originally from Colorado and now a New Yorker, Fuller has honed her talent, playing with such names as Wycliffe Gordon, Mickey Roker, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Heath, and Gerald Wilson. She comes to this session after a recent road trip with R&B star Beyoncé, which gave her a chance to show off her prowess before large crowds.
McBride is another idol and mentor whose influence looms large. "Shades of McBride" is Fuller's slant on his tune "Shade of the Cedar Tree." Her light hearted alto solo is coupled with Wolf's energetic vibes and McBride's commanding bass makes this a winner.
The decider, though, on the album, is her version of the standard "I Can't Get Started With You." It begins with Fuller's flowing, bobbing, and weaving cadenza, which ushers in McBride's graceful bass, shaded by Royston's delicate Fender Rhodes as Wolff's vibes solo clinches this beautiful version.
On the Latin tinged "Kissed By the Sun," Jones trumpet sets the bright mood, while Fuller's strong Coltranesque solo on soprano sax finishes it. Another lustrous side is Fuller's arrangement of the Harold Arlen / Johnny Mercer classic "My Shining Hour," which features her plaintive solo, effectively contrasted by Royston's spiky piano chords and McBride's relentless beat. The number is further ignited by Thompson's explosive drumming.
Decisive Steps takes an important stride on Fuller's path for recognition." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (p.69) - "Fuller delivers a technically assured disc of pride, passion and originality....It's impressive."
Personnel: Tia Fuller (flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone).
Audio Mixer: Todd Whitelock.
Liner Note Author: Janine Coveney McAdams.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY.
Photographer: Raj Naik.
Tia Fuller's time on the road with pop superstar Beyoncé Knowles has to be as profitable a venture as anyone could dream of, yet she returns to the modern mainstream of contemporary jazz with this third CD, whose title, Decisive Steps, assures everyone where her true heart lies. While alto saxophonist Fuller loves her straight-ahead bop, she's open to Brazilian music, a little funk but not too much, and she enjoys mixing it up with superstars like Christian McBride, rising star vibraphonist Warren Wolf, or fellow Mack Avenue labelmate, trumpeter Sean Jones. Fuller's core group is all female, with sister/pianist Shamie Royston on keyboards, the fine bassist Miriam Sullivan, and drummer Kim Thompson, and they clearly play well together as a unit. Bookended by bop tracks like the smoking title track and a roaring version of "My Shining Hour," Fuller paints broadly brushed strokes in complete tandem with Jones and Royston's tip-toe piano on the 6/8 in 4/4 "Windsoar," in R&B style, adding Fender Rhodes for the retro "Ebb & Flow," and picking up a flute for the most delightful waltz, "Night Glow." Wolf and McBride appear on two tracks that broaden Fuller's horizon into neo-bop, a style that she should explore more, as the acclaimed bassist has. This is a very well-conceived and consistently good album, not a magnum opus, but it indicates she's well on her way to producing a great modern jazz album in the not-too-distant future. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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