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.
By Glenn A. Mitchell
On Saturday, February, 9, 2019, Orange County Musicians’ Local 7 hosted a beautiful jazz concert bringing master guitarist Ron Eschete’s Trio for a benefit performance to support a Musicians in Need Fund Raiser. There were at least fifty members and also jazz fans who showed up for this stellar performance.
Eschete brought superb bassist Bruce Lett and excellent drummer Kendall Kay on board for this show. This concert was also an extension of O.C. Jazz Bash Series.
Opening for the evening, was the Fullerton College Quartet performing several numbers before the start of the Eschete Trio. The group consisted of Oscar Rodriguez (guitar), Nico Vasquez (drums), Steven Wood, (saxophones) and Cole Sainburg (bass). This quartet gave a lively performance of all the jazz that they played. Their tunes were: “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Like Someone in Love,” and “Yes and No” by Wayne Shorter. These young players received a lot of applause for not only their good solos but for their cohesive playing as well.
Several executive board members of Local 7 were on hand to welcome many of those who attended. During the middle break of the Eschete performance, Vice President, Edmund Velasco, announced that a special day of this date would be remembered as Ron Eschete Day.
Terence M. Love, former longtime owner of Steamers Jazz Club, hosted and presented the Eschete Trio. Ron Eschete and Terence have been friends for a number of years. Terence lauded Eschete and his spectacular playing and mentioned the many amount of times he has performed at Steamers in previous years.
Ron Eschete started performing very early on guitar before even finishing high school. He had an early break working with singer Buddy Greco in Las Vegas. He moved to Los Angeles, CA and worked with Gene Harris and also Dave Pike and continued building his career upwards all the way from 1970 to present. He has played with Ray Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Diana Krall to name a few of many.
For those of you who have never heard Ron Eschete, you will amazingly surprised. Eschete has his own very dignified sound. No one plays the guitar like Ron Eschete!
The Eschete trio started with a good swing number, “Lookin’ For The Back Door,” written by amazing composer, Alf Clausen. This tune was written originally for big band in swing format. Eschete reduced it down to play for his trio. Alf Clausen with (30) Emmy nominations has received more nominations than any other musician for his longtime movie and television scores. The trio made this tune move excitingly. The balance between Eschete guitar, Lett’s bass and Kay’s drumming was excellent. A pretty ballad followed, “Only Trust Your Heart.” Lett made a distinguished bass solo for this gem. Late, great pianist, Jimmy Rowles, created a superb classic called, “The Peacocks.” This tune seems never to be played enough and has a memorable melody that easily stands out. The audience gave some great appreciative applause for this classic.
Eschete took a break from his trio and played a solo medley of four songs, “Goodbye” (Gordon Jenkins), “This is all I Ask” (also Gordon Jenkins), “A Face Like Yours” (Victor Feldman) and “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” (Duke Ellington).
The Eschete trio resumed their show with a Blossum Dearie tune, “Sweet Georgia Fame.” Excellent trio work here again with great solos from Lett and Kay.
Finishing tunes for this longer one set show were: “Fungii Mama” (Blue Mitchell), with Kay playing a vibrant drum solo and doing exceptional cymbal work. Continuing with Herbie Hancock’s “Driftin’,” Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpy,” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” (by Josef Myrow, arr. by Gene Harris).
This concert was so good and the audience gave them all a standing ovation! It would be great, in my opinion, to see this same trio of outstanding musicians recorded in a future CD sometime coming soon.
Please be sure to visit Ron Eschete’s website for much of his current musical activities and gigs: www.roneschete.com .
Glenn A. Mitchell
Vocalist and friend, Peggie Perkins sent me a notice recently on FACEBOOK re: a regular jazz music event every Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Every Wednesday Big Band is made up of mostly professional senior musicians. Peggie Perkins sings and also emcees the activity. This is a great gig for seniors, of which we are many! This senior center is very big and has a lot of room for seniors and dancing as well. It is also very well attended.
This Seniors (19) piece big band is made up of four trumpets, Terry Baylor, Tom Cunningham, Johnny Kleker and George Lucas. Trombones include Bob Adams, Mike Henshall, Darrel Anderson and Don McGurn. Saxes include Alden Waldo, Rob Kilgore, Adrian Tapia, Paul Delgado and Jim Travers. The Rhythm section has John Hoehn (piano), Pete Ritter (guitar), Pat Morvan (bass) and Dick Castanos (percussion). Vocalist/Emcee is Peggie Perkins. Today, John “Chris” Christensen leads the band and is their fine drummer as well. Other weeks, a selected few musicians in the band, take turns leading this superb organization.
Their two sets included a wide variety of music that everyone enjoys. “A Pretty Girl is like a Melody” (moderate swing) and “Biscuits ‘n Honey” (latin rock) started the band’s afternoon. Perkins sang “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Could I Have this Dance the Rest of my Life.” These were good picks that the audience liked a lot. Her voice accentuates the song lyrics very well. Both songs were good and fine arrangements for this big band. A Count Basie number, “Straight Ahead” moved ahead to a fast swing number. A longtime Latin classic, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” livened up the dance floor in cha-cha mode. Peggie Perkins sang another favorite, “Hey Mambo, Italiano.” Before ending the first set, the band performed a Latin Fantasy, a medley, (beguine/samba) with two very recognizable tunes that I did not get the name of, bringing just about everybody to the dance floor. Many members of the band, especially the horn sections took and gave many excellent solos during all of the afternoon.
Set Two was musically exciting, starting with “Little Brown Jug,” a famous number from the earlier big band era, (Glenn Miller), (medium swing). Peggie Perkins sang two more classic numbers, “Makin’ Whoopee” and “The Nearness of You.” Her song style fits comfortably with this big band and delights the entire audience. Continuing with other numbers, the set
included “Margie” (moderate swing), “Blue Tango,” “Brasilla” (bossa nova/samba), a definite highlight of the afternoon. Peggie sang a fine version of “Our Love is Here to Stay,” the band supporting her excellently. Closing the segment for the afternoon were: “Spanish Eyes,” “Moon River,” and “Moments to Remember” (rock ballad).
This big band is well worth seeing and hearing and will be a regular attraction for a good long time at Eldorado Park Senior Center, 2800 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach, CA 90815, (562) 570-3225.
Glenn A. Mitchell