Back in 2003, pianist-singer Champian Fulton, who had recently graduated from high school, moved to New York and made her first appearance performing at Birdland. She has since become a regular at the famous club. Meet Me At Birdland celebrates the 20th anniversary of her debut, featuring her on a live trio set with bassist Hide Tanaka and drummer Fukushi Tainaka.
For what is at least her 16th album as a leader since 2007, Champian Fulton is in top form. Her style has not changed since her early days. Her singing is still a throwback to the 1940s while her piano playing is more from the 1950s. While she displays a variety of influences (such as Dinah Washington and pianists Wynton Kelly and Red Garland), Ms. Fulton has always essentially sounded like herself except when she tosses in some humorous Erroll Garner choruses.
Starting out with a joyful “Too Marvelous For Words,” Fulton performs a variety of standards (“Just Friends,” “I’ve Got A Crush On You” and a melancholy and abstract “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”), obscurities (“Every Now And Then” which was recorded by Teddy Wilson in 1935, “I Didn’t Mean A Word I Said,” and Ray Bryant’s minor blues “I Don’t Care”), and her hard-driving original “Happy Camper.” Her stretching-out on “Evenin’” is among the album’s highpoints.
Fans of Champian Fulton will certainly enjoy this spirited outing.
Meet Me At Birdland
Champion Records CR 005