LIVE: The Tia Fuller Quartet @ the First Unitarian Society’s Whisperdome, 9/30/11

Tia Fuller and drummer Rudy Royston
Tia Fuller and drummer Rudy Royston

In the wake of her tour de force performance at Freihofer Jazz Festival at SPAC earlier this summer, larger than life saxophonist Tia Fuller returned to town on Friday for her second Nippertown appearance in just three months. And once again she served up an explosive evening of jazz.

While Fuller may be best known as the saxophonist in pop star Beyonce’s touring band, she is an undeniable jazz talent in her own right. And her virtuoso quartet – featuring her sister Shamie Royston on piano; brother-in-law Rudy Royston on drums and bassist Mimi Jones – is every bit as impressive as their bandleader, dazzling the audience with their command of standards (“Body and Soul,” Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce”) and originals (“Clear Minds” and the title track of her latest album, “Decisive Steps”).

She dedicated her performance to her late grandfather Bill Fuller, a prominent local bass player, and the evening was a true family affair, not only onstage, but also with numerous family members in the audience.

Fuller’s performance was the second in a series of five concerts on A Place for Jazz’s fall concert series, following the Terell Stafford-Dick Oatts Quintet’s show last month. Next up in the series is the Kenny Barron Trio at 8pm on Friday, October 14. Tix are $15; students $7; children under 12 free.

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photographs by Rudy Lu at Albany Jazz

Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Fuller and her quartet play high-minded, complex and physically aggressive jazz. You think you grasp the song, then they get away from you, leaving you empty handed. They returned to the melody for a quick moment, offering a “you are here” moment, then they zipped away again in cloud of dust… While Fuller seemed to pull excitement from a hat whenever she wanted with her horn, my favorite parts were when the trio played without her, led by pianist Royston and bassist Mimi Jones. Easier to follow as a trio, they swooped around the dome less like three separate tracks, and more like a 3-D motion of sound that came your way in rhythmic but unsteady waves.”

Mimi Jones and Shamie Royston
Mimi Jones and Shamie Royston
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