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Champian Fulton: After Dark

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The title is well chosen, as are the front- and back-cover images, both showcasing Champian Fulton draped in fur. The vocalist-pianist’s sixth album is late-night, smoky-boîte jazz of the highest caliber, its arrangements elegantly mink-wrapped. Featuring her regular trio-mates, bassist David Williams and drummer Lewis Nash, with another constant, her father Stephen, as producer and horn-playing guest on four selections, After Dark introduces a more grown-up Fulton. The youthful vivacity that so strongly defined her previous releases cedes to a torchy ripeness.

Fulton’s intent, to venerate Dinah Washington, one of her earliest vocal heroes, only partially succeeds. She can never hope-nor does she attempt-to match Washington’s torrid sass and growl or her winking slyness. And she doesn’t straddle jazz and blues as Washington so distinctively did. Still, exercising her freshly minted maturity, Fulton winningly echoes her idol’s voluptuary fervor.

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