Born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1985, Champian Fulton was influenced by her father, a renown jazz trumpeter. Learning piano as a youth, she has playing and singing jazz since she was little and has been devoted to jazz piano and vocals since 1998. In 2006 she met David Berger, leader of the Sultans of Swing at the New York club, Birdland, where she had a regular gig and after each heard the other, and she eventually joined Berger’s band. Berger, a conductor and arranger for Jazz at Lincoln Center, is well-respected authority on the music of Duke Ellington and the swing era (having transcribed 700 or so classic works including 500 from Ellington and Strayhorn) and the Sultans of Swing is a marvelous big band that lives up to its name.
Such Sweet Thunder has just issued their collaboration, Champian, a marvelous journey through the American Songbook, on some classic standards such as I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Get Out of Town, He Ain’t Got Rhythm, Too Close For Comfort, and Just One of Those Things, along with such intriguing choices as The Gypsy (a number Dinah Washington recorded) Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens (a classic associated with Louis Jordan), and Lil Green’s Romance in the Dark. She projects the lyrics in a lively, natural fashion perhaps suggesting the late Etta Jones with a touch of Ella thrown in. Her performances benefit from the superb Sultans of Swing, and Berger’s arrangements, with their Ellingtonian accents (particularly evident on the performances of The Gypsy and Romance In the Dark). Two of the performances feature her own piano, including You Turned the Tables on Me, with trio backing, and the solo, Never-The-Less.
In summary, this is a marvelous debut by Champian Fulton with David Berger & the Sultans of Swing. Champian is a singer from whom we undoubtedly shall hear more from in the future. This is available from cdbaby.com as well as from the Sultans of Swing website, www.sultansofswing.com.
This review originally appeared in the January 2008 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 300) and my review copy was provided by the publication. Champian's present website is www.champian.net from which this and her more recent recordings are available.