Pianist/vocalist Champian Fulton hails from New York City, NY. She is a newer artist here at Sunset Jazz at Newport, now in the tenth season of this outdoor series. She is well-known for her jazz work, even though newer to us here in CA. She has a very good following and many fine credits throughout her career. Her trio had a strong rhythm section with Mike Gurrola (bass) and Kevin Kanner (drums). Special guest was Andy Martin on trombone. Good friend, Terence Love (Steamers), suggested to Joe Rothman and John McClure after hearing Ms. Fulton that they should definitely do a booking of her for the series. This concert was very well attended. The outdoor concerts have a special significance and natural ambience that is enjoyed by all attending.
Wednesday evening, July 31, 2019, Fulton’s group brought an excellent tune, “Day by Day” for an impressive beginning. Her touch on the piano is very definite and accentuated. Trombonist Andy Martin, added greatly with his playing, blending excellently with the trio. Continuing, she sang a sweet number, “I Cried for You,” backing herself on piano and with the trio as well. The rhythm section, Gurrola and Kanner, was tight! This was the first time these two have performed together. Fulton’s voice is illustrious. She expresses the lyric with passion and pizzazz. A moving bass solo by Gurrola played well and got much applause. Kanner’s drumming, with shared 8 bar breaks, also received notable applause.
A favorite of Fulton’s is “Lollypops and Roses.” Her lovely full chords filled this number nicely. Martin’s trombone also made this tune shine.
The trio, only, played another tune of Fulton’s favorite and her composition, “Lullaby for Art,” a medium up-tempo gem that drove forward impressively. She is an interested fan of late-great Art Blakely’s jazz music.
Other tunes for this set were: “Mad About the Boy” and “Traveling Light,” a Dinah Washington staple.
The second set began with “You Turned the Tables on Me.” Fulton shows a definite ‘stride’ effect in her piano playing. It is sturdy and very evident in many tunes she performs. The song,“Bubbles, Bangles and Beads,” is a longtime 1953 standard from the musical “Kismet.” Fulton’s voice is wonderful. The melodies are Alexander Borodin’s. Her version was very smooth and a delight for her audience this evening. She continued with “Darn That Dream,” excellent rendition and beautiful trombone work, again, from Andy Martin. Concluding this two set show were: “”Somebody Stole My Gal,” an upbeat creation and a big drum solo by Kevin Kanner. Featuring bassist Mike Gurrola, doing a start of bass lines for “All of Me,” Fulton sang this one, then added her own piano accompaniment, then Kanner (drums) and Martin (T-Bone) moving through this beautiful number. Gurrola’s bass lines were “right in the pocket” for the entire tune. Last two closing tunes were, first, a Eubie Blake number, “I’d Give a Dollar for a Dime.” Martin was showcased with his fine trombone backing along with Fulton’s ‘stride’ piano playing fashioned in this piece. The final number was “It’s All Right with Me,” (Cole Porter), for the trio and guest trombone master, Andy Martin. The Champian Fulton group received a well-deserved standing ovation.
This show was a definite success.
Please visit Fulton’s website: www.champian.net. I am hopeful she will be able to perform again another time at Sunset Jazz at Newport. This was the fourth of eleven concerts for the tenth year anniversary for this marvelous series. Check this website regularly: www.sunsetjazzatnewport.com.
Glenn A. Mitchell