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Beyonce's saxophonist blows back into jazz

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Saxophonist and bandleader Tia Fuller gets a little more attention than the average jazz musician and educator.

That's what happens when you also have a spot in Beyonce's touring band.

"Yeah, I think it's definitely allowed me to branch out and gain a lot more visibility globally, just having her name and the experience of touring with her attached to me," says Fuller, 38, whose parents are both jazz musicians and introduced her to the music growing up in Aurora, Colo. "It's definitely been a positive thing for me. And there are a lot of pop fans I'm able to kind of expose to jazz,just through my affiliation with Beyonce."

And, Fuller adds, Beyonce herself is no stranger to the genre, either.

"Me and a couple of the other band members exposed her to jazz, to the point where she started scatting during the shows," says Fuller, who's also worked regularly with Esperanza Spalding, Teri Lynne Carrington, Sean Jones, Nancy Wilson and others. "She did a scat of Ella Fitzgerald, 'How High the Moon,' and we incorporated (Charlie Parker's) 'Ornithology' into one of the live shows in Las Vegas that they're selling on DVD, and John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme. So she slowly but surely, I think as a result of being around jazz musicians, was open to the musicality of it."

These days Fuller is re-focused on her "day job" of being a jazz musician as well as a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she directs several ensembles -- including one dedicated to Detroit neo-soul artist Dwele -- and is planning a Beyonce project for the students as well.

"I love it," Fuller, who's also starting to write material for her next album, says of teaching. "It's allowed me to really tap into the fundamentals and foundation of where I started in order to explain things to the students. The faculty is amazing, the administration is very supportive. They're open to me starting new ensembles and trying different things that they know the students will be excited about."

Tia Fuller

6, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25

Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 97 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe

Cover is $25, with no cover for the 10:30 shows.

Call 313-882-5299 or visit www.dirtydogjazz.com.

Web Site: www.dirtydogjazz.com

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