4 NEW Mack Avenue Releases!

THE CAPTIVATING SOPHOMORE CD BY SINGER-SONGWRITER SACHAL VASANDANI.  PRODUCED BY JOHN CLAYTON, DOUG WAMBLE, AL PRYOR AND SACHAL

“It is very thrilling to have a new male jazz vocalist on the scene. Having toured with Sachal in Japan made me realize what a wonderful jazz singer he is. It’s so good to know that jazz singing is alive and doing great because of this talented young man.”  –Sheila Jordan 

“My music always starts off with jazz, but can end up in any number of places because of all my different influences. I guess I value the freedom to explore as much as the discipline of tradition.” –Sachal Vasandani

That’s Sachal Vasandani reflecting on the adventure he’s embraced on his captivating sophomore CD, We Move, released September 15, 2009 on Mack Avenue Records. Produced with a team of top-flight studio sages (John Clayton, Doug Wamble and Al Pryor), We Move finds the young jazz vocalist (who also serves as a producer) maturing as songwriter and bandleader in the wake of his breakout 2007 debut, Eyes Wide Open (Mack Avenue Records). That exceptional CD made for one of the most startling revelations of the year – a fresh, young vocal talent who displayed a singular, deep-brewed voice and possessed an uncanny sensibility to straddle the fine line between jazz and pop with songs that teemed with emotion and intellect.

After two years of touring and with a renewed confidence in composing and arranging, Sachal decided it was time to begin We Move. “On the road, I would gather my ideas any way I could, and then lock myself away and mold the music to fit my emotions,” says the vocalist who was a semi-finalist in the 2004 Thelonious Monk Institute Competition. “I ended up writing 30 to 40 songs in all kinds of styles and about all kinds of topics.”

Ultimately, his work narrowed to the songs here: original lyrics and music, band arrangements, and older tunes augmented by new sections. As for his team of producers (Clayton and Wamble both contributed to his debut outing), Sachal says, “Doug and I would work around tracks we had laid down, experimenting with sounds, voices, guitars that would best serve the atmosphere we were after. We did that for a month before going into the studio again. And I remain in awe of John’s ability to hear what I am after and lead me to the answer. Plus, he looked after my voice with such care.”

Signed to Mack Avenue Records in 2006, the Chicago native grew up in a household where all kinds of music was appreciated. His parents listened to a variety of jazz, from Duke Ellington to Keith Jarrett, which piqued his curiosity. In pursuing his love for music at the University of Michigan, he began to be recognized as a talent of the future, most notably by DownBeat magazine, which awarded him Collegiate Jazz Vocalist of the year in 1999.

After moving to New York, Sachal quickly became a part of the jazz scene, and made a musical home in storied clubs like the Zinc Bar. He was also tapped for a number of guest performances and recordings, notably by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Reed, T.S. Monk, and countless other peer and mentor musicians.

 After Sachal’s break-through debut recording, he toured extensively supporting Eyes Wide Open.  In addition, he was mentored by the veterans of the jazz vocal realm. He shared the stage with Jon Hendricks at a masters and mentors concert in Idaho (“Jon’s honest spirit, intellect and improvising ability are such an influence”), and toured Japan with Sheila Jordan. “Sheila serves as a mother figure to a lot of us singers,” he says. “Like Jon, Sheila sings powerfully and with so much love. To keep your voice, spirit, energy alive, night after night, for decades – what an instruction in longevity.”

Yet, while Sachal was riding high on the success of Eyes Wide Open, “I was hitting a low point emotionally. My relationships broke, I couldn’t really face my own problems and I lost both of my role models – my grandparents. I went to India to see them when they were hospitalized, together. Although it was a thrill to be making music, I was felt like my life was falling apart. That’s when I started writing songs for We Move, in order to come to terms with myself, to select the right songs to understand myself better.”

On We Move, Sachal has ample support from his trio comprising pianist Jeb Patton, bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis. The band has been together since 2001. “Those guys are like family in the best way,” says the leader. “We’ve known each other and worked together for so long that they’re forthcoming in feedback and are extremely confident. Yes, we like to experiment, but the four of us are also deeply indebted to the tradition; there’s a respect for music that balances our wilder sides.”

Sachal notes that in addition to their instrumental support, two band members also contributed songs, including Patton’s “Horizons” that is paired with the romping, upswing “Once in a While” (by Michael Edwards and Bud Green), and Davis composed the music on “Ring Road (Back to You),” which the leader wrote the lyrics to.

Wamble also plays a significant role as a guest musician on We Move, adding various guitar styles, background effects, layering and texturing on several tunes. Other guests include drummer Justin Brown, trombonist Vincent Gardner and tenor/baritone saxophonist Dayna Stephens.

Sachal’s originals are among the standout tracks on We Move. The gem of the bunch, “Every Ocean, Every Star,” features Wamble’s layered guitar textures. “This is a song about expectations,” says Sachal. “It’s a beautiful thing to try to give without expectations, but can we really? I wrote this song for the people I’m closest to.”  Sachal’s lyrics on the record, beginning with “We Move,” reflect his struggle “to accept myself without guilt.”

In addition to his originals, Sachal puts his spin on songs from the jazz songbook and canon, including the bright CD opener, Rogers & Hart’s “There’s a Small Hotel” with a Sachal intro (“Escape”) that gives the standard a fresh feel.

Another We Move highpoint of Sachal’s creativity comes in his popish “Heartbeat,” which he says was “one of the most fun songs to realize” on the album. With a full color palette ranging from horns to guitars, the romantic, deceptively innocent lyric gets a sonic “cushion that really moves it along.” That’s followed by the end song, the Jimmy Mundy-Trummy Young-Johnny Mercer beauty, “Travelin’ Light.” It serves as the perfect cap to the proceedings. “It’s like a little coda,” Sachal says. “We’ve been building through the record, and finally we come to ‘Heartbeat,’ which is huge the whole way through. At the very end, I figured, let’s just be a little quiet.”

CLICK TO HEAR AN EXCLUSIVE STREAMING TRACK FROM WE MOVE

Worldwide Release Date: September 15, 2009

SachalVasandani.com

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SIX TITLES

BY THE LATE SINGER-SONGWRITER KENNY RANKIN

On February 16, 2010, the Mack Avenue label imprint Sly Dog Records released six titles by singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin (who died in Los Angeles from lung cancer on June 7, 2009 at 69); Mind-Dusters, Family, Like A Seed, Silver Morning, Inside, and The Kenny Rankin Album, at all popular retailers.

 The following four titles–Like A Seed, Silver Morning, Inside, The Kenny Rankin Album–have been pristinely re-mastered from the original analog tapes. Kenny’s son, longtime music industry professional Chris Rankin, personally oversaw the transfer from the original tapes with top engineer Joe Gastwirt. Chris Rankin explains: “We took the original DBX masters and did straight transfers without using digital processing. Our main concern was with maintaining the sonic integrity and dynamic range from the original recordings. Minimal restoration was done, and everything was transferred through the original DBX processing.”

 After sorting through the original master mix tapes for each album, Rankin and Gastwirt had to identify either the original master recordings or the earliest generation master safety tapes. 

 “Several of these master recordings were encoded with the DBX noise reduction system,” states Gastwirt, “and the master safety’s were encoded with a version of the Dolby A system that was popular in the ’70’s. Also, some of these tapes had developed Sticky Tape Syndrome and needed to be baked at a controlled low temperature for more than 8 hours to remove the moisture from the tape. We then located old reconditioned DBX and Dolby decoders to play back the original recordings as they were originally intended. The tape transfer mastering chain resembled the mastering chain from when the original LP’s were cut, and we were careful to do very similar processing as done in the original mastering.”

 Once they were satisfied with the analog sound, the recordings were transferred to 176.4K/24Bit (4 times the rate of CD) digital then converted to the current CD release standard of 44.1/16 Bit.

 Kenny Rankin brought a finely tuned sophistication and a capacity for a surprising variety of musical expression to contemporary pop music. His high tenor voice – vulnerable yet capable of conveying many emotional gradations – helped Rankin establish instant intimacy with audiences everywhere. Though he might appear with a trio, Rankin often performed alone. A singer with only his guitar between him and the audience, Rankin was a knight without armor. He seemed to relish the exposed posture; it underscored the emotional nakedness of his performances. Paul McCartney was so taken with Rankin’s version of “Blackbird” that he invited Kenny to perform the tune when Lennon and McCartney were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. 

Rankin grew up in New York City and absorbed the many forms of music around him like a sponge. A Greenwich Village apprenticeship brought Rankin into contact with producer Tom Wilson in ’65. At Wilson’s invitation, Rankin played rhythm guitar on “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Maggie’s Farm” for Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home

 His songs preceded him into the national marketplace: Mel Tormé recorded Rankin’s bright waltz “Haven’t We Met” on his A Lush Romantic Album of ’65 and Helen Reddy took “Peaceful” to the Top Ten in ’73.

 Validation came in the form of a deal with Little David Records. Rankin’s struggle suddenly turned into a journey. Founded by Monte Kay, Little David was a boutique label whose main artists were comedians Flip Wilson and George Carlin. Jazz entrepreneur Kay’s résumé included the fabled Royal Roost nightclub, the Miles Davis Tentet (the so-called Birth of the Cool band), and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Rankin couldn’t have been happier to be in such company.

Chris Rankin sees his father’s work this way: “I think what my father really tried to do is put a voice to the human experience, in all of its forms. His songs examined those human challenges from every angle with a beautiful voice and a lot of emotional depth. He was willing to share it all with his audience. Love was a predominant theme throughout his work: romantic love, loss of love, and love’s redemption. He was never afraid to express his emotions through his work; he loved playing for the people.

 “He had a unique way of hearing other people’s songs and finding new things in them.  My family is very proud of my father’s musical legacy and we’re very appreciative that his albums are going to be reissued.”  

 In closing, Mack Avenue label President Denny Stilwell comments, “Kenny Rankin and Sly Dog Records are a perfect match for the prototype singer-songwriter that he embodied.  Kenny was a natural musician with a vocal talent that wrung every nuance from deeply evocative lyrics. Lyrics both common and ethereal – everyday and extraordinary. Kenny’s gift and these landmark recordings are a treasure, and it’s an honor to be involved with their reintroduction. Our cooperative relationship with Kenny’s family has been open and unified in our mutual goals – first and foremost, the active care-taking of Kenny Rankin’s musical legacy.”

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SAXOPHONIST KIRK WHALUM TO RELEASE

“THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAZZ: CHAPTER III” CD/DVD

WITH SPECIAL GUESTS LALAH HATHAWAY, GEORGE DUKE,

DOC POWELL, KEVIN WHALUM & MORE

Innovative Online ‘Music is Love. Share12™’ Campaign Offers Fans

Select Tracks From the GATJ3 Project — Absolutely Free!

Eight-time Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum will release the long-awaited third installment in his popular genre-bridging gospel jazz series with a special package and unique online marketing campaign. The star-studded live celebration The Gospel According To Jazz: Chapter III will be available March 16, 2010, in both a two-disc CD package and a special DVD shot in hi-definition video via Whalum’s label Top Drawer Records and distributor Mack Avenue Records. The project features the gospel-targeted single “He’s Been Just That Good,” featuring vocalist Lalah Hathaway.

The Gospel According To Jazz is the brainchild of Whalum, whose dedication to his musical craft and his Christian beliefs came together to launch the live concert celebrations with the first GATJ release in 1998. A second edition, The Gospel According To Jazz II, was recorded in Los Angeles and released in 2002. The project was honored with a gospel Stellar Award for Instrumental CD of the Year and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album.  

The long-awaited Chapter III in the series – recorded live in 2007 at the Reid Temple AME church in Glenn Dale, Maryland – is a joyous concert of praise and worship, where Whalum takes listeners on a journey from spirituals through New Orleans jazz through modern jazz, R&B, hip-hop, reggae, blues, and gospel. “It’s kind of a mini journey through the evolution of jazz to an extent,” says Whalum. “It documents the fact that gospel is not a recent collaborator with jazz. They started out together.”

Unique to the concept of The Gospel According To Jazz is the fact that it brings jazz fans, gospel fans, and R&B fans together with those who are dedicated to Christ, and meets the listeners where they are spiritually. Including a DVD shot by noted filmmaker Jim Hanon in hi-def — the listener and the DVD viewer can truly witness the profound connections made between the audience and the musicians, between the musicians themselves, and between all present and the Holy Spirit.

“It’s a vertical and horizontal interaction,” Whalum explains, “where you see these musicians playing and expressing themselves in their adoration and wonder for the Invisible One. And when the camera pans over, across the shoulder of the artist, you focus on the audience members who are responding and taking part, that’s the horizontal aspect, resonating with each other in their own questions and struggles and affirmations of faith and appreciation of music. Then there is a vertical dimension that separates this from most just regular other jazz shows. It’s transcendent.”

 The GATJ3 Experience

 The Gospel According To Jazz III was created through the extraordinary skills of a special lineup of musical artists. In addition to Whalum, the celebration features jazz keyboardist George Duke, vocalist Lalah Hathaway, guitarist Doc Powell, vocalist Kevin Whalum, keyboardist/vocalist John Stoddart, percussionist Lenny Castro, and others. Further, Whalum celebrates family as well as faith by engaging some other highly talented relatives. In addition to his brother Kevin, the set features his uncle, singer and saxophonist Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum; his nephew, saxophonist Kenneth Whalum III; his son, bassist Kyle Whalum; his nephew, vocalist Kortland Whalum; and his cousin, hip-hop artist Caleb Tha Bridge. 

Whalum starts the musical journey alone on his horn, performing the gospel call-and-response unique to the African American experience in America. He is then joined by his 27-year-old nephew and his 81-year-old uncle, both on saxophones, and a shuffling New Orleans rhythm on the piece “Fit To Battle,” which raises the rafters. “It’s a three-generational presentation of tenor saxophone,” Whalum says. “My uncle was my inspiration, and I was my nephew’s inspiration. So now we walk out and I add drums and percussion, they’re playing this New Orleans second line groove, so we’re moving up the Mississippi River just as jazz did. It’s just raucous, just sax and drums and on and on.”

The inspirational journey continues with the Latin jazz flight “Ananias & Sapphira”; followed by Whalum’s affectionate instrumental tribute to his late father on “Rev.” And, in the GATJ tradition of rededicating pop and R&B songs to the Lord, George Duke performs a heavenly piano meditation on the pop classic “Because You Loved Me,” and Lalah Hathaway and Kevin Whalum transform the Luther Vandross favorite “Make Me A Believer” into a declaration of faith. Hathaway then lends her smokey voice to the original gospel anthem “He’s Been Just That Good.”

The celebration continues on Disc II with the reggae tinged tribute to the Motherland title “Africa Jesus Africa,” followed by a version of the Stylistics tune “You Are Everything” with jazz and gospel guitarist Doc Powell. Other highlights: Peanuts Whalum’s elegant vocal version of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile.”  Miss Hathaway also returns to sing Kirk’s original anthem “It’s What I Do,” followed by an inspired take on the blues standard “The Thrill Is Gone.” And as he did with “I Wanna Ta-Ta Ya Jesus” on the last chapter of GATJ, Kevin Whalum alters the Frankie Beverly & Maze tune “Running Away” into a call for accepting Jesus.

in addition, the CD package includes a bonus track version of “You Are Everything” featuring Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife Serita Jakes.

Music is Love. Share12™ Campaign

Even more exciting for Whalum fans is that they will get to help spread both the music and the message of GATJ3 to friends and family, while also earning the opportunity to download half of the music from GATJ3 for free. Just as jazz music has always innovated and improvised between musicians, the new Music is Love. Share12™ campaign is a unique way to use social media to build community among fans. The remarkable interactive campaign, which kicks off on the project’s release date, is the brainchild of Atlanta-based Fairwave Media, which also created Kirk Whalum’s impressive website and his Bible In Your Ear daily podcasts, and Whalum himself, who is an avid fan and user of social media.

The Music is Love. Share12™ campaign is a social networking program that consists of a brand-new native Facebook application at www.facebook.com/KirkWhalum where fans can send 12 people instant messages telling them about the new Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III project. When those twelve individuals respond to the e-mail, confirming that they have received the sender’s message, the original sender will be able to download half of the music from the project, absolutely free! Now the 12 other people in that circle can also share the message of GATJ3 with 12 more of their relatives, acquaintances, and buddies so that they too can share in the program that nets them up to nine tracks from Kirk’s amazing live jazz worship event. In addition, Share12 participants will also receive an e-mail notice about a special discount rate to purchase the whole GATJ3 CD package and DVD at an exclusive retailer.

The campaign will also be supported by specialized widgets placed on Kirk Whalum’s website at www.kirkwhalum.com, and other select Internet sites.  Participants will also be encouraged to post Tweets about their GATJ3 campaign activity on Twitter.

“It mirrors the concept of the album,” says Ajani Sandridge, Principal of Fairwave Media who pioneered the campaign. “You are connecting horizontally with people in an effort to make a vertical connection with God.”

More About Kirk Whalum

Musician Kirk Whalum is one of the premiere tenor saxophonists in contemporary and smooth jazz. The son of a Memphis preacher, Whalum received a scholarship to the music school at Texas Southern University, where he formed a band and began playing on the local club circuit. When he opened for keyboardist Bob James in Houston in 1984, the pianist was impressed with Whalum’s expressive style and invited him to play on his album 12. Whalum then signed with Columbia and released his solo debut, Floppy Disk, in 1985.

Whalum has since recorded more than 19 albums in his three-decade career, including jazz and gospel projects. He has recorded for Columbia, Warner Bros., the independent Intersound label, and Rendezvous Entertainment. His most recent CDs include 2003’s Memphis/Stax tribute Into My Soul, 2005’s Kirk Whalum Performs The Babyface Songbook, and 2007’s Roundtrip. His inspirational output includes the three volumes of GATJ, and the 2001 releases The Christmas Message and Hymns In The Garden. He has also participated on the recent tribute CDs Forever, For Always, For Luther 1 & 2, and Promises Made: The Millennium Jazz Project. He has also toured as part of Sax For Stax and Groovin’ For Grover.

Whalum has been nominated for the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award, a total of eight times. He is currently the Artist In Residence for the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as the Henry & Jeanne Varnelle Artist In Residence at the Theology & Arts Institute of the Memphis Theological Seminary.

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TIA FULLER

SAXOPHONIST TIA FULLER TAKES DECISIVE STEPS ON HER MARCH 16 RELEASE FOR

MACK AVENUE RECORDS  

The astonishingly gifted, Colorado-born, alto / soprano saxophonist / flautist Tia Fuller is at home at all points of the musicverse – from her show-stopping solos as a member of superstar Beyoncé’s all-female band, to her scintillatingly swinging jazz dates and recordings. Her newest Mack Avenue release Decisive Steps, is the long-awaited follow-up to her 2007 label debut Healing Space. It features her Beyoncé bandmate, drummer Kim Thompson; bassist Miriam Sullivan; Fuller’s sister, Shamie Royston on piano and Fender Rhodes; with special guests, trumpeter Sean Jones and bassist Christian McBride (both Mack Avenue label mates); vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.

“It’s a continuation of Healing Space, evolving from a stationary place of healing to steps of action,” Fuller says. “I’ve been in the mindset of really moving forward to the next level in my life, constantly being in the mindset of greatness, relentless in my pursuit and progressing with purpose by embracing my talents, recognizing my strengths and improving upon my weaknesses…but also in not being afraid of change; stepping forward in faith and not in fear.”

Indeed, the ten tracks on this sumptuous CD aurally illustrate Fuller’s artistic fearlessness fulfilled by her agile, buoyant and elegant full-bodied sax lines effortlessly improvising a number of moods and grooves, as evidenced by the take-no-prisoners tempo of the title track. “The first track, ‘Decisive Steps,’ was one of the last songs that I wrote for the album,” Fuller says. “This particular song is very intricate – it has a lot of hits and time changes, so, compositionally, I wanted to portray a sonic representation of momentum; in moving forward, and really feature everybody in the quartet.” Royston’s Icarusian “Windsoar” highlights she and her sister’s telepathic compositional bond. “We have a way of writing, where our songs are almost seamless,” Fuller says. “It’s funny; when Shamie started writing ‘Windsoar,’ it begins with a melody surrounded by a concert B-flat, and I was like, ‘Shamie…I just started writing ‘Clear Mind’ with the same concept of the harmonies surrounding the melody of the B-flat.’ We were writing in the same light of each other. We didn’t talk about it; it was intuitive.”

That intuitive simpatico comes through loud and clear on the funky “Ebb & Flow,” which features McBride and Sullivan. “The concept of the song was inspired by one of my Spelman [College] sisters reunion,” Fuller says. “In preparing for my recording and taking those aggressive steps, you have to be one with the spirit – allowing the ebb and flow of the physical and spiritual to become one.” “Shades of McBride” is Fuller’s finessed take on McBride’s “Shade of the Cedar Tree.” “My melody is an expansion of his melody, over different chord changes. After a week of singing my melody over his tune, I knew it was complete,” Fuller says. “He’s been a mentor of mine and a great friend.”

The interlude “Steppin’,” featuring tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, takes Fuller’s thematic concept to a new level. “Prior to the recording I had the opportunity to meet Maurice Chestnut…we did some gigs together with the T.S. Monk Septet. I was like ‘man, I’d really like to feature him – tying it along with the concept of decisive steps…to audibly represent stepping.’ I was thinking what better way to do that, than with a tap dancer. Musically, it’s an interlude to represent moving forward and serves as a transition within the sequence of the album.”

The Latinesque “Kissed by the Sun” was “inspired by a melody I that was in my head as I awoke, the sun hitting my face…it felt like a kiss.” Likewise, the waltz-like “Night Glow,” penned by Shamie Royston’s husband [Rudy Royston], is equally impressive. The album also contains Fuller’s ingenious reworking of two well-worn standards. “On ‘I Can’t Get Started’ I wanted to feature the amazing artistry of Christian McBride and Warren Wolf,” Fuller shares. “I wanted to experience the purity of the bass, sax and vibe combination, absent of drums. This arrangement expands the timbre of the album and recording with Christian is a dream come true – this trio combination is timeless. On ‘My Shining Hour’ I wanted something we could ‘burn-out’ on, but also something that grabs the listener’s attention. This arrangement gives us the harmonic freedom…simple, yet complex bass-line over the classic melody is the ultimate balance of the familiar meeting the unfamiliar…closing the album with the excitement of the quartet.”

The bonus track, “Life Brings,” a percussive, “syncopated spiritual” featuring Chestnut and vocalist Asaph Womack, will be available digitally. “It’s a blueprint of what I want to do in the future: an orchestral piece, with a full choir, video and tap dancers – a large production.”

On Decisive Steps, Fuller’s sound is soaring, supple and in-the-pocket from years of channeling her horn heroes. “The first solo I transcribed was Cannonball Adderley’s ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ my freshman year at Spelman,” Fuller says. “I’ve always had a deep love for Cannonball. I always find myself going back to him. He has everything in his playing: soul, technique, his sound is amazing. Also John Coltrane; he’s another person that I checked out early on. I actually heard him before I started playing the saxophone because my parents are musicians. Recently, I’ve really been checking out Earl Bostic. With the Beyoncé gig, I have a solo where I am playing a twelve bar G blues intro [the cadenza before “Work It Out” while Beyoncé is talking] and I thought, let me check out Earl Bostic, Trane did. More importantly, he was one of the saxophone legends that mastered the art of playing in the R&B world, the pop world and the jazz world…ultimately speaking the language and dialect of each genre.”

Fuller’s jazz-rooted, genre-crossing artistry is the result of an arts-filled childhood. She was born in Aurora, Colorado to musician parents, bassist Fred and singer Elthopia, who both taught in the Denver Public School District. She grew up listening to Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker. She started playing classical piano at the age of three, inspired by her older sister, Shamie, and studied the instrument for ten years. She started playing the flute at the age of nine and began playing the saxophone, deepening her interest in middle school. In 1998, she graduated Magna Cum Laude at Spelman College in Atlanta (where she studied with the great saxophonist/educator Joe Jennings) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music; graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Master of Music degree, Jazz Pedagogy and Performance in 2000.

Fuller made the eventual move to New York, relocating to nearby Jersey City, arriving two days before September 11, 2001. Undaunted by the terrible times of that period, she forged ahead and played and recorded with some of jazz’s brightest stars, including the Duke Ellington Big Band, Nancy Wilson, T.S. Monk, Don Byron, Brad Leali, Wycliffe Gordon, Mickey Roker, Ralph Petersen, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Heath, Gerald Wilson, Sean Jones, Charlie Persip, and Don Braden. Then, on June 17, 2006 she was hired by Beyoncé and, as they say, the rest is history.

In 2005 she released her first CD as a leader (produced by mother, Elthopia Fuller), Pillar of Strength (Wambui), which was praised by Terrell Holmes of All About Jazz for being “an exhilarating work that introduced her as a leader who strives for perfection,” followed by her Mack Avenue debut, Healing Space in 2007.

Her teaching credentials are equally expansive and impressive. She has conducted numerous clinics and master classes at the middle, high school, and college levels, including: Jazz Institute of New Jersey, Aurora Public Schools, Mile High Jazz Camp, University of Colorado at Boulder, Miami-Dade Community College, Jazz Institute of New Jersey, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Drexel University, Montclair State University, Bloomfield College, and New Mexico State University.

Which brings us to Decisive Steps: Tia Fuller’s latest sonic testament to her ever upward-and-evolving evolution toward artistic perfection; an evolution that is taking place in an intricately intertwined musical world where an artist combines a myriad of genres. “The Beyoncé gig has helped me to really appreciate the artistry and freedom that we have in jazz,” Fuller says. “Playing in jazz settings helps me to appreciate and integrate what we’re doing with Beyoncé. Playing in front of sixteen thousand people, or sixty people, it’s the same, because it’s all about people, transferring energy, uplifting and encouraging spirits and sharing the love of music. There’s a common thread between the two, and they enhance each other. I think musicians are taking a step forward on both sides; we’re moving forward with combining all forms, and more people are accepting that concept, because it’s all inter-connected. We, as a people, are taking Decisive Steps!”

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