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Champian Fulton: Flying High - Big Band Canaries Who Soared

Champian Fulton: Flying High - Big Band Canaries Who Soared
If memory serves, Woody Herman was once quoted as saying "it's tough to be a canary," or words to that effect. "Canary" of course, was just one of the many euphemisms used for female big band singers in the 1930s and 1940s. Herman's pointed observation was spot on. He thought, correctly, that most female singers were being evaluated—by male critics, of course—on their physical attributes primarily, not on their vocal prowess. This is no place to go into detail, but anyone who has spent much time reading reviews of "girl singers" (as Rosemary Clooney memorably titled one of her later recordings), knows that Herman had hit the mark. Any number of vocalists caught Hell from critics in Downbeat or Metronome for no apparent reason other than gender. Occasionally, a contemporary listener will listen to one of them who was especially ill-used—and today virtually unknown—and wonder why they inspired such hostility. Misogyny is never far from mind as a likely motive, but then, one knows, the past is another country. They did things differently there, so the saying goes; get used to it. Or don't bother at all. Woody was right. It was tough to be a canary. Even if you were Ella Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, if an anthology of really hip girl singers is to your taste, look no farther. Some of the names may be familiar, and some not so much so. But there is something for everyone here, ranging from the familiar—"All of Me" to the less so "Lullaby of the Leaves." Champian Fulton, who basically owns this recording, is no new new arrival, although she may be new to some listeners. Well, as musicians have remarked of other "girl singers," if you can play a piano that well, singing is just icing—and Fulton does everything astonishingly well. It is truly difficult to pick a best track here, but you have a choice of Carmen Bradford, Gretje Angell, Olivia Chindamo, Champian Fulton, Jane Monheit and Vanessa Perea. Chindamo's "Sweet Georgia Brown" recalls jazz at Newport and Anita O'Day, but take a listen. Vanessa Perea is another pleasant surprise. Really, for fans of the genre, this recording is a serious pleasure. Gretje Angell, for example, can make a listener not think of Peggy Lee on "Why Don't You Do Right.." And that, obviously, is something else. Not a bad track in the bunch.

It would have been nice to hear some fours traded with an excellent rhythm section, but why quibble? A tribute to canaries is long overdue. And this one is excellent. And sexy too.

Track Listing

On the Sunny Side of the Street; Secret Love; I Don't Know Enough About You; I Only Have Eyes For You; All of Me; Lellaby of the Leaves; Sweet Georgia Brown; Why Don't You Do Right; What a Difference a Day Makes; The One I Love; Social Call; Yopu Belong to Me; The Man I Love; Tea for Two; Exactly Like You.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Flying High - Big Band Canaries Who Soared | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Jazz at the Ballroom


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