Pianist/vocalist Champian Fulton may be the most charming person in the world. Even a short sip of her extensive internet presence (especially YouTube, with performances and interviews) reveals an artist who radiates the joy of creation with a luminescent personality. Her music reflects that personality, andlike the sounds of of Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrongit lifts the spirit high.
And swing? Like the best of them.
The Stylings of Champian is Fulton's tenth albuma two disc, eighty-five minute exploration of the time-tested Great American Songbook tunes and jazz standards.
Listening to the disc's opener, the much-covered "Day By Day," it's hard to believe that, early on in her career, Fulton considered dropping the vocal side of her artistry to concentrate on her piano playing. But that didn't happen, and "Day By Day" says that's a very good thing. Supremely assured, she has developed a clean and precise articulation combined with exquisite phrasing.
"Lollipops and Roses" is not a song you'll encounter everyday in the jazz experience. The lyrics are advice for dealing with a temperamental woman. Fulton imparts this guidance with such good humor and grace (The Champian Charm) that it could be the set's highlight. And throw in a superb and concise piano solo.
With eighty-five minutes, there is plenty of room for instrumentals: A terrific take on Oscar Peterson's "Blues Etude," along with "Rodeo," from the pen of her father, Stephen Fulton, who sits in of flugelhorn on seven of the disc's fourteen tunes; and an ebullient rendition of Cedar Walton's "Martha's Place," and a high-energy take on "All The Things You Are," featuring Fulton cooking over a high flame with his flugelhorn.
Another highlight: "Body and Soul," with a phantasmal and fluid bass/vocal duet from Hide Tanka and Fulton.
CD 1: Day By Day; Lollipops And Roses; I Only Have Eyes For You; Blues Etude; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Rodeo; Darn that Dream; Too Marvelous For Words; Body And Soul. CD 2: Isn't It A Lovely Day; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; Martha's Prize; Lonesome And Sorry; All The Things You Are.