Ice Breaker Jazz Festival Returns to UVU with Top Saxophonist Tia Fuller

The Utah Valley University Department of Music proudly presents Ice Breaker Jazz Festival Featuring Tia Fuller, in conjunction with the UVU Jazz Orchestra, for a one night performance on November 20th, at 7:30PM in the Ragan Theater.

The Ice Breaker Jazz Festival is an annual event involving hundreds of young jazz musicians from around the state. Each year, the festival culminates in a performance by the UVU Jazz Orchestra. Dr. Alex Heitlinger, Assistant Professor and Director of Jazz and Contemporary Performance at UVU, has nothing but praise for the students involved this year. “The UVU Jazz Orchestra is the premiere jazz ensemble at UVU,” he continued, “Students audition for the group each semester and only the most hard-working and talented earn a spot in the group.”

This year, the jazz festival will feature Tia Fuller, one of the top jazz saxophonists in the world. When Mack Avenue recording artist, Tia Fuller picks up her sax to play, something amazing happens as the reverberations of her musical elixir fill the room. Balancing both worlds of performance and education, it is understood why this touring artist and full-time professor (at the Berklee School of Music), has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, (Magna Cum Laude) and Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude), was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star, Beyoncé. As part of the I AM.. Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour, where Tia has played in various venues throughout the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. She is a featured soloist on the Beyoncé Experience DVD (Me, Myself and I), I AM Yours DVD (Wynn Theatre) and also appeared on a number of major television shows, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards and Total Request Live, and the 2010 Grammy Awards, As well as having performed as the featured soloist with Beyoncé for President Obama at the White House. An accomplished performer in her own right, Tia has recorded three CDs with her quartet.

The first, Pillar of Strength (2005/Wambui), received praise as being “an exhilarating work that introduced her as a leader who strives for perfection” (Terrell Holmes, All About Jazz Magazine). Her sophomore release, Healing Space (2007/Mack Avenue), is an offering of “melodic medicine” and healing agent. Tia has released her third CD Decisive Steps, March 16, 2010, 2nd under the Mack Avenue label, which received the #1 Jazz Week rating for two weeks straight, #3 in JET magazines top jazz cd’s, and nominated for Best Jazz Album for JazzWeek. And in 2012, she released her fourth album, Angelic Warrior, which received praise from Wall Street Journal, New York Times and numerous jazz publications. Tia’s quartet has performed world-wide, including: Angola, Croatia, South Africa, North Sea, Umbria, Edinburgh jazz festivals, and NYC’s prestigious Lincoln Center’s: Drizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, just to name a few.

Tia can also be seen touring regularly with a number of bands including: Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning “mosaic” Project and Money Jungle “Provocative in Blue”, the assistant musical director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour, and Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful Life tour. She has also performed with luminaries such as Ralph Peterson Septet, Rufus Reid Quintet, Geri Allen, the Nancy Wison Jazz Orchestra, Wycliff Gordan Septet, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Kahn, Ledisi, Kelly Rowland, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Pattie Labelle, None Hendryx, Sheila E, Valerie Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monet, Patrice Rushen, Erica Badu and Aretha Franklin. The dynamic saxophonist has been featured on the cover of Saxophone Today (March 2014), Jazz Education Journal (2012), and JazzTimes Magazine (June 2010). In addition, she has received numerous awards and marks of distinction including, winning Downbeat Critic’s Poll “Rising Star” two years in a row for Soprano Sax (2014), Alto Sax and Flute (2013). Tia was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey’s 2003 graduation ceremony, where she presented her “Journey to Success” speech. She also was the featured soloist playing the National Anthem in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium on Sept. 2009, and interviewed on Fox 5 News and Fox 2 News in Detroit and Washington D.C.

As a devoted educator, Tia is a a full-time professor at Berklee College of Music, where she directs the prestigious Rainbow Big Band and Rainbow All-Stars, in addition to 6 other resembles including repertoire and jazz improvisation classes. It is here and beyond that she believes her passion for teaching and inspiring students is due to her parents being educators/administrators in the Denver Public School District. In addition, she presents lectures, residencies and masterclasses at some of the most respected institutions in the country including: Duke University, University of Colorado at Denver, Spelman College, University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, New Mexico State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, China Residency, and Rimon School of Music in Israel.

Tia moved to Jersey City, NJ two days before the events of September 11, 2001. Despite the fact that the jazz community believed there was not much work in the area during the period, she wasn’t discouraged and used the tragic event as a reason to succeed. She got her first gig playing in a big band at a fish fry in South Jersey. Brad Leali, who was playing in the Court Basie Orchestra at the time, spread the word that Tia was a skillful saxophonist who also played the flute. This brought her to the attention of others in the jazz community, including Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Don Braden and Don Byron which led to her performing with a number of luminaries in the world of jazz.

With music in her blood and a song in her heart, Tia was born in Aurora, Colorado to jazz musicians, Fred and Elthopia Fuller. Her father, Fred plays bass and her mother, Elthopia sings. She grew up listening to her parents rehearse in the basement of their home, as well as the music of jazz greats, such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughn and Charlie Parker. Inspired by her older sister, Shamie, Tia began playing classical piano when she was just three years old and continued until she was thirteen. She also began studying the flute when she was nine. Her interest in jazz came into fruition in high school. It was during this time she began playing the saxophone. The Colorado native, and 14 year New Jersey resident who now resides in Boston, says playing music makes her feel as if she is a vessel for the Spirit to flow through. While listening to her songs, she wants people to be uplifted and experience a sense of restoration, compelling them to move forward not in fear, but in love and faith..

The Ice Breaker Jazz Festival combines student talent, top tier performances, and a world class featured artist to make Orem the heart of jazz in Utah for a night. The UVU Jazz Orchestra is proud and excited to join her in an exciting concert of her music.