Tag Archives: jazz

Tia Fuller offers ‘A Fuller Sound’ for CAU-Morehouse-Spelman homecoming

22 Oct Tia Fuller-saxophonist-A Fuller Sound
Tia Fuller-saxophonist-A Fuller Sound

Photo courtesy Keith Major

After three well-received jazz albums, saxophonist Tia Fuller has landed on stages with Beyonce, Dianne Reeves, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae.

Tonight, her straight-ahead jazz chops bring Fuller to Atlanta for “A Fuller Sound,” kicking off the Clark Atlanta-Morehouse-Spelman homecoming festivities at 595 North, alongside WERC Crew’s Xavier BLK working the turntables.

As a magna cum laude Spelman graduate, playing for homecoming is a fitting enterprise.

Keep reading for Fuller’s aim when she performs, why Atlanta serves as fertile ground for artists, and what she learned from Bey.

What do you hope your audience walk away with after your performance?  

“I always hope that my audience walks away feeling uplifted and inspired after my performances. I want them to feel empowered, self-assured and confident that they can do the unimaginable, that they can pursue their wildest dreams and inspire others to do the same. I also want them to feel connected to the music of the ’90s, as my sound is all-encompassing and nostalgic. It takes you there and back.”

Tia Fuller-595 North-A Fuller Sound

Any other plans for “A Fuller Sound”?

“I hope to take ‘A Fuller Sound’ around the country and maybe even around the world, from colleges and universities to jazz festivals and performing arts centers. There are creative people that could use ‘A Fuller Sound’ for inspiration.”

 
What brings you back to ATL to perform? 

“My hometown is Aurora, Colo., and Atlanta is my second home. I have a lot of ties to the city. I have great friends in town. Atlanta is also the fertile ground that serves as a strong foundation for me spiritually and musically.

“During my time at Spelman, I practiced on the saxophone eight hours a day and completed a spiritual rites of passage, which allowed me to exercise and expound my personal relationship with God. So many of my spiritual brothers and sisters have exceeded their goals here, and I’m happy and amazed to have witnessed that.

“I appreciate sowing into Atlanta’s fertile ground, a place where many plant their seeds of life, fertilize them and watch them grow.”

You have worked alongside notable artists and musicians over the years. What have you learned from those experiences?

“I am incredibly fortunate to have worked with some of the biggest, baddest musicians of our time. As you can imagine, I’ve learned a lot and have grown professionally over the years. A lesson that’s near and dear to me comes from Beyonce, who taught me to never accept ‘no’ for an answer. There’s always a ‘yes.’ You just have to work for it. She also taught me to maintain a crystallized vision when multitasking as band leader, businesswoman and musician.”


What differentiates the music scene in ATL from the rest of the world?   

“Atlanta is a city with blended sounds. People have migrated here from all over the world. There are opportunities to become exposed to multiple genres of music and work with other talented performers. It’s what makes the city so unique. Atlanta is influential in that it allows artists to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. You just have to be open to it. And that’s what ‘A Fuller Sound’ is all about.”

— Big thanks to Aikeem Hunter for his contribution to this article.

Joey Sommerville heats up Suite Jazz Series with Overnight Sensation album release show

2 Nov
Courtesy Joey Sommerville on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joeysommervilletrumpet

Courtesy Joey Sommerville on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joeysommervilletrumpet

The temperature in Atlanta may have dropped, but trumpeter Joey Sommerville kept the Suite Food Lounge hot during the album release party for Overnight Sensation on Thursday, Oct. 30.

With a career spanning more than 20 years, the album’s title is tongue in cheek. “I’ve been doing this for a while,” Sommerville joked after his opening song. “It’s so good to see a room full of people who came to hear your songs,” he said.

Count good observation among Sommerville’s skills. The room was packed with people seated in the main room and the adjacent lounge enjoying dinner and cocktails for the weekly Suite Jazz Series.

The mixed crowd of mature adults and a handful of below-fortysomethings included “King of Strings” violinist Ken Ford and How Big Is Your Dream drummer J. Fly, as well as WCLK-FM morning show host Morris Baxter.

JOEY-SOMMERVILLE-OVERNIGHT-SENSATION-COVER-300x263Sommerville and the band played tunes from the new album, which dropped Oct. 28, and a few selections from previous releases.

Paul Preyer stood in for guitarist Earl Klugh on “Desire,” track No. 2 from the new album, and sax man Ryan Whitehead added some heat to a hip, heavy mashup of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Its stealthy bassline made the timeless song thoroughly modern.

After heavy applause and a few fist pumps from the crowd, Sommerville slowed things down with “Rebecca of Birmingham,” an ode to his grandmother and the city she called home.

The bluesy, sweet number is reminiscent of Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind” at moments, with something special in the pauses and end notes.

Sommerville popped off his jacket just in time for “Make the Spot Hot,” making his way through the crowd and past a few ladies line dancing to the groove from his 2011 album, The Get Down Club.

“I didn’t plan to get out of hand,” Sommerville said with a knowing smile. The crowd didn’t seem to mind as dancing picked up table side and in the back near his merch table.

Courtesy Joey Sommerville on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joeysommervilletrumpet

Courtesy Joey Sommerville on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joeysommervilletrumpet

After introducing the band — Al Smith on keys, Louis “Styx” Newsom on drums, music director Tres Glibert and Derek Scott both on guitar — the guys played “Forever.” It was first recorded in 1993, but released on Overnight Sensation.

Billy Ocean boogie comes to mind with a lovely bridge and guitar solo. Even though the trumpet is prominent, it blends particularly well in this song.

Like the red cups on each table that signify a real house party, Sommerville and the crew showed the room a real good time. He had the entire crowd responding to his demand to “Put your red cups up!”

While his sing-song rap wasn’t the stuff of true hip-hop MCs, the go-go feel of “Red Cups Up” and its party vibe made it all just fine.

Sommerville’s horn added a perfect accompaniment to a B.B. King blues number. “Look out baby,” goes the chorus, “You might have made your move too soon.” Not so, if the folks who couldn’t stop dancing were any indication, especially one man up front who followed Sommerville’s trumpet note for note, step for step.

“We’re going to take you south of the border now,” Sommerville said before leading into my favorite, “Like You Mean It.” The Latin-styled song that encourages listeners to “shake your hips” is off the 2007 album of the same name, and gets regular rotation on WCLK.

For his encore, the band funked things up with Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” Sommerville had a couple of “taking you to church” moments with his vocals, pushing the funk deeper.

Fans of live music can check out the Suite Jazz Series every Thursday. It’s a nice change of pace. Complimentary parking is a plus, as is the decent sound and redesigned space.

Be prepared for spotty service at the bar, but full-on fun with quality musicians. If the show Sommerville and his friends put on is any measure, it’s going to be a long, hot winter.

WCLK-FM changes format, replaces ‘S.O.U.L.’ with smooth jazz in ‘survival’ move

28 Aug

OTL-Jamal Ahmad

WCLK-FM (91.9) adjusted the formatting of just about all of its shows starting Monday, Aug. 26, in an effort to save the station, according to assistant general manager Tammy Nobles. The most painful of these adjustments is to Jamal Ahmad’s “S.O.U.L. of Jazz” show. It seems the soul has been sucked out of the 2-6 p.m. weekday time slot and replaced with smooth jazz.

Ahmad has consistently offered quality soul music to WCLK listeners and beyond. He’s known for playing rare grooves — you probably know the hip-hop track featuring a sample from one of these gems — and breaking new music from local and international artists.

His show provided a welcome reprieve from the nationally syndicated talk fests occasionally interrupted by your uncle’s favorite song from back in the day, or your little niece’s latest R&B infatuation.

Ahmad was voted Best Drive Time DJ by Creative Loafing for a couple of years, and his show on WCLK was one of the legs upon which the table of Atlanta’s music scene has been built — the others being our venues, retail outlets such as Moods Music, and the people (both artists and patrons).

Nobles acknowledged Ahmad’s strong following, but insisted that the Arbitron ratings for his show — and the overall decrease in station listenership — justified a change. She said that focus groups were conducted, including a 900-song survey with many tunes and artists listeners said they weren’t familiar with.

In short, the station needs more money. Over the past year, the station went from having two fund drives to three, but still fell short of its fundraising goals. This is amid less support from the Clark Atlanta University, the station’s primary source of funding and where it is housed. In 2012, the station pulled in $250,000 less from CAU than it did in 2011, according to its 2012 financial statement.

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Whisper Room’s closing brings Brooke Alford to Karma Bistro

7 Aug

Churchill Grounds’ Whisper Room is no misnomer. For 10 years, the small-capacity setting hosted some of jazz music’s biggest names — and the staff would indeed shush you for speaking too loudly as the music played. But as of July 31, the Whisper Room is no more.

While Brooke “Viosocalist” Alford was to be among the accomplished musicians such as Freddie Cole and Russell Gunn that have played at the Whisper Room, the violinist’s show will now take place at Karma Bistro (formerly Echelon 3000) on Thursday, Aug. 15, 8 p.m.

And jazz will play on at Churchill Grounds — which is a couple doors down from the Fox Theatre — but on the cafe side, just as it did with the venue first opened.

Alford’s release party and performance are in honor of her second album, The Viosocalist. Expect violin versions of soul and R&B classics such as Mary J. Blige’s “Love No Limit,” Beyonce’s “Deja Vu,” and Jill Scott’s “Golden.”

Alford has performed with plenty of adult contemporary and smooth jazz artists including Najee, Will Downing and Frank McComb, and has shared the stage with James Ingram, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Alex Bugnon.

Here’s a video to give you a taste of what Alford, her band, Refresh, and their surprise guests will have in store next week. Get your tickets in advance if you can.