Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Irrepressible Champian Fulton Brings Her Dad Onboard For a Charming, Conversational Album

When the 2020 global coup d’etat crushed the performing arts in New York, Champian Fulton took to social media to keep her fan base satisfied. The woman who is arguably the best piano-playing singer and best singing pianist in jazz has featured her dad, flugelhornist and trumpeter Stephen Fulton on many albums in her discography. But her new one Live From Lockdown – streaming at Spotify – is their first full-length duo release, the culmination of a long series of online performances together.

This is actually a live-in-the-studio project, fearlessly recorded in Queens just over a year ago. Champian Fulton is one of the great wits in jazz, and hearing more of her father than ever here, it’s obvious where that sense of humor comes from. Together the two breathe new life and hope into a collection of familiar standards along with a couple of welcome originals.

The younger Fulton takes a colorful, sometimes misty, sometimes wry, sometimes joyous line by line approach on the mic and a steady, precise stroll on the piano on the album’s opening cut, I Hadn’t Anyone Till You. Daughter responds to dad’s goofy cluster with an ever better one of her own; likewise, his gruff curlicues and her playful, romping phrases in Satin Doll. It’s great to hear her really air out her keyboard chops here: one of her best records (and a big favorite of this blog) remains her 2016 all-instrumental album, Speechless.

Flugelhorn takes centerstage in an insightfully moody version of You’ve Changed, with a surprisingly airy vocal. Champian restrains herself mostly to a walking lefthand while Stephen picks his spots in Blow Top Blues, a goofy tune by the late jazz critic Leonard Feather. Then the two take a restrained midnight walk through an instrumental take of Moonglow, a lyrical trumpet feature with an irresistible piano solo that rises from a devious twinkle to jubilation.

There’s breathtaking, spiraling righthand piano in What Is This Thing Called Love and meticulously modulated Dinah Washington-esque vocals in What Will I Tell My Heart. The duo stride resolutely through Look for the Silver Lining, the 1919 Jerome Kern ragtime tune, then imbue I Had the Craziest Dream with a bluesy gravitas.

Pass the Hat, a co-write by the Fultons, is a brisk, straight-up blues and a launching pad for good-natured humor and sparkle on the keys. The hundred-year-old children’s song I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles is just plain ridiculous, balanced by Champian’s original, Midnight Stroll, more of a sly prowl with carefree flugelhorn overhead. It’s an aptly optimistic way to end this entertaining, familial project.

October 4, 2021 - Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: