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Champian Fulton: The Breeze and I

Jerry D'Souza By

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For anyone unfamiliar with her music, Champian Fulton is a delightful surprise—a waft of fresh air; a ray of sunshine that can brighten the darkest day.

Fulton is a versatile pianist and singer who ingrains herself into the sentiment of a song. She has depth, emotional pitch and depth that rise to a high degree. It isn't surprising then, that besides leading her own groups in New York City (where she has been based since 2003), she has also played with Lou Donaldson, Frank Wess and Louis Hayes.

The Breeze and I, her third album, finds her in fine form on 13 standards. The choices give her plenty of room to stamp her credentials as a substantial and stylistic performer. Fulton sets the tone with the gently swinging "Exactly Like You," her phrasing neat, the emphasis fitting in perfectly. Her piano adds to the joyous sense of discovery as she rides the melody with verve.

The blues are ripe for the picking on "I Can't Face the Music," and Fulton finds the vein into which she can filter a welter of pain. Her voice captures every nuance to elevate the song to a captivating high—one that gets added power from her plaintive piano. She then turns in some stunning work as a pianist, as she romps across the break of "Day In Day Out" at fever pitch, rolling out a lode of ideas that complement her vocal delivery. The instrumental title track cements her approach; her playing sparkling, as she references the melody and then takes it to a new home where it jumps and swings. Bassist Neal Miner and drummer Fukushi Tainaka abet the comportment, making this tune absolutely irresistible.

Fulton connects to the soul on this very commendable CD.

Track Listing: Exactly Like You; Day In, Day Out; Land's End; The Sheik of Araby; The One I Love Belongs to Someone Else; Say it Isn't So; The Breeze and I; I'm Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key; I'm Confessin'; Easy to Love; I Can't Face the Music; My Heart Stood Still; If I Had You.

Personnel: Champian Fulton: piano, vocals; Neal Miner: bass; Fukushi Tainaka: drums.

Title: The Breeze and I | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Gut String Records

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