[21 February 2007]
Now here’s something to get excited about: a young flutist and saxophonist with a knack for enchanting compositions and a passion to inspire listeners. She’s also an educator, serving as Director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem’s “Harmony Ensemble”. Sound good? Then get an earful of Tia Fuller and the delightful synergy she shares with her band members—Miki Hayama (on piano and keyboards), Miriam Sullivan (on bass), and Kim Thompson (on drums). Fuller and Thompson have been traveling in Beyonce’s all-female touring band, which is certainly good exposure, but Ms. Fuller and company pull out all the stops for Healing Space. This effort follows Fuller’s debut, Pillar of Strength, and as her album titles suggest, Fuller seeks to heal and inspire through the beauty and precision of her artistry. Healing Space is full of wonder, a blend of whimsy and melancholy, titillating tempo changes, cascading piano, and head bangin’ action on the drums. Fuller’s sister, Shamie Fuller-Royston, contributes her own compositions (“Just a Journey” and “Ebonics”) as well as a song co-written with her husband Rudy Royston (“The Olive Leaf & Dove”) wherein Fuller’s flute playing is marvelous. The rest of the tunes are penned by Fuller, which means there are no standards in this set. Healing Space is appropriately and refreshingly personal, with the high points being the triumphant and celebratory “Katrina’s Lullaby” and the exquisite groove of “Blue Room in Mama’s Womb”. Guests include vocalists Charenee Wade (“A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime”) and Iyanna Wakefield (“I Release Me/Healing Space”) along with trumpeter Sean Jones (“Breakthrough”), percussionist Khalil Kwame Bell, and saxophonist Ron Blake.