Champian Fulton: Meet Me At Birdland

Oklahoma-born singer, mentored by Clark Terry, plays a mellifluous set of standards skilfully accompanied by her own piano in trio format


A well-established presence on New York City’s jazz scene for the past dozen years, singer and pianist Champian Fulton was born in Oklahoma in 1985. Her father is trumpeter Stephen Fulton and family friends included Clark Terry and Major Holley. Her gentle yet knowing vocal sound is ideally suited to her choice of songs and she interprets lyrics with mature understanding.

Although some of the songs Fulton has chosen for this live date are familiar, none is overused and in any case she brings to them all a delightfully personal touch. These include a lithely swinging Evenin’ (by Mitchell Parish & Harry White), Just Friends (John Klenner & Sam M. Lewis) and I Didn’t Mean A Word I Said (Jimmy McHugh & Harold Adamson).

There is a light yet confident touch to her piano playing and she makes quite an impact as a soloist. Allowing the listener to fully appreciate her skill and inventiveness in this role, she does not sing on three of the tracks: Phineas Newborn’s Theme For Basie, her own Happy Camper and Ray Bryant’s I Don’t Care. On these tracks there are also deft solo moments from bassist Hide Tanaka and drummer Fukushi Tainaka, both of whom are elsewhere discreetly but wholly supportive of Fulton.

Since her 2007 recording debut, Fulton has released several albums, among which the most recent are Speechless (Posi-Tone, 2017), which as the title suggests features only her piano skills, The Things We Did Last Summer (Blau Records), on which she is accompanied by tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, and some on her own-name label, namely The Stylings Of Champian (2018), Birdsong (2020), with Hamilton again, and Live From Lockdown (2021), where she is joined by her father.

In addition to her performing schedule, Fulton is also a participant in music education, including Litchfield Jazz Camp and Rutgers Jazz Institute. In this activity, she ensures aspects of her craft that were inspired and encouraged by Clark Terry when she was a child are maintained.

Champian Fulton is a highly talented musician, her singing and playing are both exceptional. This new release is very warmly recommended.

Too Marvelous For Words; Every Now And Then; Evenin’; Theme For Basie; Happy Camper; Just Friends; I Didn’t Mean A Word I Said; I’ve Got A Crush On You; I Don’t Care; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; I Only Have Eyes For You; It’s Been A Long, Long Time (68.36)
Fulton (p, v); Hide Tanaka (b); Fukushi Tainaka (d). NYC, September 2022.