By Jeff Potter | Published June 2017
Over seven previous discs, Champian Fulton has established herself in the elite circle of jazz performers who impress as both instrumentalists and vocalists. Here, she aims to assert her formidable keyboard prowess by releasing an entirely instrumental disc. Mission accomplished: This joyful, swinging set successfully affirms Fulton as much more than a “vocalist who accompanies herself.”
An artist rooted in tradition who favors standards of the swing and bop era, this outing is also a departure in that nine out of 10 tracks are original compositions. Fulton’s tunes embrace strong melodies, with a premium on infectious rhythm. As a pianist, Fulton evokes her early heroes, which include Red Garland and Wynton Kelly, but filters those influences through her own expression. The opener, “Day’s End,” sets the tone. Laying down a medium-tempo two feel, Fulton generates a jaunty swagger fringed with rolling trills recalling Erroll Garner. The good times continue with “Lullaby For Art,” which—despite the title—is certainly no nap-inducer. A tribute to Blakey, the cooker highlights Fulton’s crisp, uncluttered soloing. Fulton doesn’t aim to be an iconoclast; she just loves to deliver unpretentious, swinging fun.
Speechless: Day’s End; Lullaby For Art; Somebody Stole My Gal; Dark Blue; Tea And Tangerines; Later Gator; Pergola; Happy Camper; That’s Not Your Donut; Carondeleto’s. (50:56)
Personnel: Champian Fulton, piano; Adi Meyerson, bass; Ben Zweig, drums.