Champian Fulton seems much too young to be on her tenth album, but here it is. A double-CD of swinging music highlighting her artful vocals. She is joined on piano by Hide Tanaka on bass, Fukushi Tainaka on drums, and her father Stephen Fulton on flugelhorn. This is her working quartet in New York, and their familiarity shows on the album.
Champian grew up in a musical family in Oklahoma, performing her first paid gig at ten years old. She was mentored by Clark Terry and settled in quickly to the New York jazz scene, holding down a two year residency at Birdland in the mid-2000s.
[See our July 2017 cover profile: Champian Fulton: A Fresh Breath of Swing]
The Stylings of Champian features 14 deeply explored tracks, totaling 85 minutes of music. She highlights compositions from some of her piano favorites including Oscar Peterson and Cedar Walton. The extended time given to each performance gives the album a live, though superbly recorded, feeling. I appreciated the instrumental interplay, notably between drum and bass, the surprising use of a bow at one point snapped me to attention. This is a classy and professional album honoring the heart of mainstream jazz.
Fulton’s delightful piano is highlighted on “Martha’s Prize” and “Blues Etude”. Her place in any contemporary list of great vocalists is secured by her interpretations of the clever “Lollipops and Roses”, and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was.”