Champian Fulton & Scott Hamilton – The Things We Did Last Summer
(Blau Records. Review by Lauren Bush)
I first became aware of Champian Fulton through listening to Clark Terry. He was famous for nurturing young musicians, and while Champian obviously benefited from that, it is clear that Clark Terry saw natural talent and just helped give it a platform to be heard.
This new partnership with Scott Hamilton extends that even further. The two (or three if you count the voice and piano separately) flow together and weave beautifully, complementing one another in all the right places.
Being surrounded by such amazing jazzers from such a young age (parents included!), Champian has soaked up the phrasing, the harmonies and especially the emotion in her singing. She channels the instrumentalist in her voice – which, in my opinion, is the best kind of singer!
When Your Lover Has Gone comes straight out of the gate – a solid pair – Scott’s tenor piping up in all the right places, Champian emphasising her words cleverly. There is a new smokiness to her voice that shows a pleasant maturation that hasn’t been present before which is nice to hear. The subtleness of Ignasi Gonzalez on bass and Esteve Pi on drums hold the fort: steady, soft and swinging through the rest of the album.
Scott is featured on track two in Black Velvet. Not a song I was familiar with, but it has a catchy, cheeky introduction and you can almost hear the sass coming straight out of the saxophone. A tuneful solo, that’s easy to just close your eyes and get lost in, starts to develop as the quartet sink into a solid swing.
The ‘colla voce’ introduction in I Cried For You has a playful yet vengeful tone (now it’s your turn…) to it as you can hear the theatrical side of Champian’s voice shining through the lyrics. She holds her own with an equally playful piano solo after Scott has a chance to boast his chops at a quicker tempo. I bet this gig was a lot of fun to watch.
The title track, The Things We Did Last Summer, is a lovely ballad with a more vulnerable quality, again allowing Scott to carry the listeners into a trance with his warm tone, at times slipping into a delightful whisper.
There are some much lesser known tunes on this album with Too Marvellous For Words really reminding me of other classics like D’Lovely and S’wonderful, and My Future Just Passed where Champian shows off her vocal chops, playing around with the melody and knitting beautifully together with Scott’s fills.
Runnin’ Wild is a great blow, Champian holding her own in this band. Clark Terry would have been proud! Even up-tempo, Scott manages to keep his solos melodic and engaging.
I could hardly wait to get to the closing song, The Very Thought Of You, a true favourite of mine; the whole quartet gently makes the listener fall in love with the melody, the lyrics and the band.
I almost forgot I was listening to a live album. Aside from small reminders of audience applause after solos, the whole recording is as good as any studio recording, but with the extra delight that comes only from performing live for an audience. That joy and talent radiated through my speakers, making me feel like I was there.