Tia Fuller's fourth CD (and third for Mack Avenue) is a diverse affair, with a top-drawer supporting group (keyboardist Shamie Royston, bassist Mimi Jones, and drummer Rudy Royston) and several guests. The focus is primarily on the leader's originals, starting with the diverse post-bop vehicle "Royston Rumble" that showcases Fuller's explosive, often gritty alto, guest John Patitucci's bubbling electric bass, and drummer Rudy Royston's fiery closing break. "Ralphie's Groove" proves immediately infectious with its soulful theme, while Fuller's dramatic "Angelic Warrior" showcases her considerable chops on soprano sax in dramatic fashion, with Terri Lynne Carrington taking over on drums. "Tailor Made" mixes contemporary flavor and R&B in a spirited manner. Guest vocalist Dianne Reeves' sincere performance in "Body and Soul" is somewhat handicapped by the funky backbeat and bland backdrop scored by Fuller. Other standards fare better, including interweaves of two Cole Porter favorites, "So in Love" and "All of You," the first introduced with a staccato unison line by alto and bass (with Patitucci taking over on acoustic bass), with Carrington again on drums. "Cherokee" is far from the usual bop interpretation, with Royston's distorted Fender Rhodes providing an unusual springboard behind the leader's high-powered alto sax. The future of jazz is safe with contributions from rising stars like Tia Fuller.
Review by Ken Dryden