October 05, 2012
[Review: New York Times] Tia Fuller - Angelic Warrior
If youâ€™ve seen BeyoncĂ©â€™s live show over the last five years, youâ€™ve noticed the saxophonist Tia Fuller in the all-female live band. Ms. Fuller has her own band too, mostly women, and at root sheâ€™s a hard-core bebopper, a Charlie Parker to Cannonball Adderley kind of player. â€śAngelic Warrior,â€ť her fourth album, has a determined hardheadedness throughout. Itâ€™s in her aggressive alto-saxophone tone, her funk rewrites of the standards â€śBody and Soulâ€ť and â€śCherokee,â€ť the eager and surging tempos, and even in the soprano-saxophone ballads, which she charges through. (This is jazz aimed at a wide audience; when itâ€™s challenging, itâ€™s mid-period Coltrane-challenging â€” a well-established American sound â€” and when itâ€™s less so, it bears benign traces of singsong supper-club fusion, with the guest star John Patitucci playing guitarlike melodic improvisations on piccolo bass.) Whatâ€™s at the core of the record, and maybe what makes it cohere, is a family: Ms. Fuller, her sister Shamie Royston on piano and her brother-in-law Rudy Royston on drums. Theyâ€™re connected; they spark. If this gives her music some of its strength, one hopes that in the future it will give her more license to relax, which she can do when she wants to. Her thoughtful solo on â€śBody and Soul,â€ť after a calm and imposing chorus by the singer Dianne Reeves, proves it.