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Champian Fulton: Speechless

Dan Bilawsky By

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Speechless is a date that may be best classified as a centrist statement, but it's far from the norm for Champian Fulton. While many have come to know and admire Fulton for her arresting vocals and piano work, both usually given in service to Great American Songbook classics, she's not conforming to those expectations here. For her eighth album in total, and her debut on the Posi-Tone imprint, Fulton is staying completely mum for the first time, putting her piano playing in the spotlight on a program of originals.

Fulton's songs tend to speak with an old-world charm that makes them irresistible. An after-hours vibe is immediately apparent on the opening "Day's End," a low-key swinger with behind the beat ruminations, rippling asides, and stylish plinks. From there it's off to "Lullaby For Art," an ode to Blakey that, while hardly qualifying as a lullaby, could've certainly been a lost Bobby Timmons tune. Then the lone cover comes into view—a hyper take on "Somebody Stole My Gal" that has Fulton setting the scene before drummer Ben Zweig steals it with his brush work—and things turn "Dark Blue" with a burnished synesthesia ballad contrafact on "Woody 'n' You." Through it all, Fulton impresses by not trying to impress. In an age when a lot of albums try to sell you a bill of goods or present false deities, Champian Fulton makes her mark by just being herself. It's a novel concept that shouldn't have to be.

Attractive informality continues to carry the day as Fulton moves forward with a waltzing "Tea And Tangerines," merges a Lou Donaldson blues aesthetic and Herbie Hancock-esque swagger—à la "Alligator Boogaloo" melding with "Cantaloupe Island"—on "Later Gator," and cedes some well-earned space to bassist Adi Myerson on the mellow "Pergola." Then she heads toward the finish line with "Happy Camper," an animated Latin-swing hybrid built in the image of Horace Silver; a bluesy "That's Not Your Donut," highlighting clear-headed single note piano lines and cheery chording; and a happily hurtling "Carondeleto's," a song that captures the spirit of the late Clark Terry—the trumpet titan who called Carondelet, Missouri his home.

Not a word is uttered on Speechless, but the music says volumes. Champian Fulton continues to dazzle and delight on this album, demonstrating that her truest voice may very well be found in her piano playing.

Track Listing: Read what Marc Free, the producer and head of Posi- Tone Records has to stay about "Speechless" "Pianist Champian Fulton unleashes her creativity to spellbind the audience until they are "Speechless.” With her first date for Posi-Tone, listeners are invited to sit back and dig the mesmerizing sounds as Fulton bravely embarks on her first ever record of entirely instrumental performances. With an amazing program featuring her own original compositions, Fulton delivers a tour de force demonstration of her pianistic prowess. This trio date is also highlighted by the solid harmonic foundation of bassist Adi Meyerson and the bombastically explosive metrics of drummer Ben Zweig. With a straight forward, swinging and soulful presentation that covers a wide variety of styles, sounds, and moods, Champian Fulton succeeds in delivering a stunning revue that will certainly leave every listener "Speechless" and bring bright moments to jazz fans everywhere. " Champian Fulton said: "I am SO EXCITED because my new album, "Speechless", arrived though It won't be available for download via iTunes until March 17, BUT it's available for purchase on my website (Champian.net/shop) right now! I cannot tell you how excited I am for this release, because even though it's my 7th album, it's my FIRST album with my original songs! I am so proud of all the work my band and I put into this project, and of course I am thankful to my mother and father for their unwavering support while I composed my first songs. haha. They deserve a gold star for their kindness and patience! Even though this is an instrumental only project, it doesn't mean I don't sing anymore! Don't worry! My live shows are still me singing and playing, and I hope to see you at one soon (see my website or the Jazz Near You Calendar)."

Personnel: Champian Fulton-piano; Adi Meyerson-bass; Ben Zweig-drums

Title: Speechless | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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