Monday, February 19, 2007

Tia Fuller - Healing Space (Mack Avenue, 2007)

Tia fuller is a saxophonist, flautist and composer who combines jazz with rhythm and blues and gospel music on her latest compact disc. Performing with her are Miki Hayama on keyboards, Miriam Sullivan on bass; Kim Thompson on drums, Kahlil Kwame Bell on percussion, Sean Jones on trumpet, Ron Blake on tenor saxophone, Charenee Wade and Iyana Wakefield on vocals. The music begins in a very promising manner with the scalding hard bop burner "Breakthrough" which has some steaming tenor saxophone and trumpet backed by strong McCoy Tyner-ish piano and very forceful drumming. That track, along with "Blue Room in Mama's Womb" which also features robust tenor saxophone improvisation are the most memorable cuts on the disc. Although the playing is first rate all around, much of the music recorded for this disc is a little too mild in strength to really be something that could hold my interest. Fuller is certainly a talented soprano saxophonist, but her limpid tone isn't enough to carry songs like "Fertile Ground" and the well intentioned "Katrina's Lullaby" where the safe feel of the music robs it of any emotional investment. The gospel lyrics inserted into songs later in the album further dilute the effectiveness of the music by turning into radio friendly R&B. While I respect the musicians who made this CD as talented and sincere, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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