Champian Fulton, Meet Me at Birdland Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Jazz vocalist and pianist Champian Fulton has released a live recording called Meet Me at Birdland. The date was recorded in September of 2022 during a four-night run at the famous jazz club; this marks Fulton’s sixteenth album as a leader. Hearing Fulton in a live setting is something magical as her voice and piano become one. Accompanying her is Fukushi Tainaka, drums and Hide Tanaka, bass.
“Just Friends” is a must-know standard, and that familiarity and intimacy with the tune shed new light on all the subtle and creative expressions Fulton finds within the melody and harmony. Singing it with reverence to the past but making the theme her own unique toy for fun exploration. Her phrasing expands and contracts but never dissolves the beauty of the original theme.
Being an avid jazz fan means I love standards; that is where Fulton excels. “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” has a special place in my heart. Fulton’s version is hued with her sensual vocal style, and elegant piano playing does this standard justice. Her held notes bring an interesting phrasing to the melody, and each pass through the form brings new gems and surprises.
Meet Me at Birdland will be a wonderful addition to any jazz vocalist collection. The live energy is captured on the recording, and Fulton’s phrasing is something special.