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Healing Space by Tia Fuller

Tia Fuller already has received much well-deserved praise for this, her first Mack Avenue recording, Healing Space.... and deservedly so. The title of her first piece is "Breakthrough." Even though Fuller intends for the term to be used in a spiritual context, actually Healing Space could be considered her breakthrough album the one that allows her to express her deeply felt beliefs through music and the one that garners the attention of the jazz world at large. Having moved to New York for a full-time music career in 2001, Fuller, assuredly, has gained momentum in high-profile gigs and in recognition of her talent. Though she has performed in the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, the T.S. Monk Septet and Nancy Wilson’s back-up band, Fuller gained the most exposure, though not the most musical identity, during her tours with Beyonce’s all-female R&B group. But that wasn’t enough. Fuller wanted to break through.... to let her own personality emerge in her music.

And now she has.

The intent of Healing Space is to leverage the curative powers of music. Combined with prayerfulness and spiritual absorption, music has been identified as a healing force throughout much of the human race’s existence. Randy Weston knows it is so, and he uses music not just as entertainment, but as a means for bringing people together and aiding those who are hurting. Also, in various cultures, music assists healers as they tend to the wounded. After experiencing her own difficulties, and then after witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina upon entire sections of New Orleans, Fuller felt the need to reach out spiritually through her music to help with the healing there, which a year later still is needed.

The progress of the pieces comprising Healing Space follows the pathways of Fuller’s intentions as the original compositions support her mission of wishing for universal harmony. Initially, she defines the key spiritual term "breakthrough" with a thrilling, propulsive interchange with trumpeter Sean Jones that grabs the listener’s attention immediately. The success of this invigorating tune derives from the prodding, rumbling, surging rhythm section, as pianist Miki Hayama nudges and drummer Kim Thompson pushes, suggestions that the horns accept as the intensity of their work keeps rising to higher levels throughout the track. No doubt appreciative of the opportunity to perform her composition with musicians who share her goals, Fuller draws in the listener with the dynamic energy of her performance. Switching from alto to soprano saxophone, Fuller plays her sister Shamie Fuller-Royston’s piece, "Just a Journey," as Fuller breezes through the track with fluid ease. In contrast, she plays "Ebonics" with an infectious funk that seeps into the listener’s consciousness through understated minor-key harmonies embellished by Hayama’s keyboard work and especially Miriam Sullivan’s resonating bass work.

The tracks at the ending of the CD, however, change its mood, if only by the fact that Fuller’s pieces are sung to her own melody and lyrics, even though its theme stays constant. Fuller ends her deeply felt, distinctive album with a message of humility combined with spiritual awareness when her group performs "I Release Me/Healing Space." The occasion for the spiritual curing is described when Fuller performs a duo with pianist Miki Hayama on "Katrina’s Prayer," a soulful lament about suffering and the wish for its resolution.

Tia Fuller has much to say, and much music to play, in her first recording on a major jazz label. Most important of all, Fuller brings much needed well-wishing to listeners undergoing troubled times as she applies the power of music to the challenge of spiritual uplift.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tia Fuller
  • CD Title: Healing Space
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Mack Avenue Records
  • Tracks: Breakthrough, Just a Journey, Ebonics, Katrina’s Prayer, Katrina’s Lullaby, Fertile Ground, The Olive Leaf and Dove, A Reason A Season A Lifetime, Blue Room in Mama’s Womb, I Release Me/Healing Space
  • Musicians: Tia Fuller (alto & soprano saxophones, flute); Miki Hayama (piano, keyboards); Miriam Sullivan (bass); Kim Thompson (drums); Kahlil Kwame Bell (percussion). Sean Jones (trumpet); Ron Blake (tenor saxophone); Charenee Wade, Iyana Wakefield (vocals)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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