Champian Fulton: Birdsong

Dan McClenaghan By

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Champian Fulton: Birdsong
Champian Fulton was introduced to alto saxophonist Charlie Parker during her stay in the womb. The New York-based pianist/vocalist's father, Stephen Fulton held a high opinion ("The most beautiful music that ever was") of Charlie Parker With Strings (Verve, 1950), so he made a cassette tape of the recording and played it during his wife Susan's pregnancy: The sound waves of Charlie Parker and Orchestra traversing maternal flesh to burst into the domain of amniotic fluid to find their way to tiny ear canals, the tympanic membranes, to the ultimate destination—the pleasure centers of the growing brain, bringing (we can guess) a bright pre-birth smile that hasn't (no guessing here) faded to this day.

There may or may not have been a method to Stephen Fulton's madness. But if there was a strategy, it must have worked. Thirty some years later, Champian Fulton offers Bird Songs, a joyful celebration of Charlie Parker's centennial.

Champian and Company open with "Just Friends," a tune that also sat in the introductory cut position on Parker's With Strings session. A better choice couldn't have been made. The Champian Fulton-led ensemble has a relaxed and fluid swing. Fulton's vocals feature syllables stretched like warm bread dough interspersed with interludes of a horn like sassiness. Saxophonist Scott Hamilton blows a supple and swingingly elegant solo.

Fulton covers tunes written by Parker—"Yardbird Suite," "Quasimodo," "Bluebird"—as well as numbers that Parker made his own...

Making them her own—something that Fulton is doing here in her own sweet way, whether it's "Star Eyes," its bounce coming out of the understated, old school style rhythm team, with bassist Hide Tanaka and drummer Fukushi Tainaka, or "Dearly Beloved," with Fulton comping straight up behind Hamilton's sax solo, sounding a bit like Jutta Hipp. "Out of Nowhere" features rumba rhythm and gorgeous, soft-around-the-edges flugelhorn solo from Stephen Fulton (the guy with that cassette tape), while "Bluebird"—one of Bird's most recognizable melodies, closes the show with an authentic 1940s, early 1950's atmosphere.


Track Listing

Just Friends; Yardbird Suite; This is Always; Star Eyes; Quasimodo; All God's Chillun Got Rhythm; Dearly Beloved; Out of Nowhere; If I Should Lose You; My Old Flame; Bluebird.


Champian Fulton: piano; Fukushi Tainaka: drums; Hide Tanaka: bass; Stephen Fulton: flugelhorn; Scott Hamilton: saxophone, tenor.

Additional Instrumentation

Champian Fulton: piano, vocals.

Album information

Title: Birdsong | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced

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