Perfection is overrated in music. Too many jazz artists are releasing albums that feel worked over in post-production to the point that all possibility of a mistake, which is to say life, has been carefully planed away. There’s nothing sloppy or slipshod about New York City vocalist/pianist Champian Fulton and tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds’ live duo album Dream a Little…, but it practically pants with unvarnished vitality.
Fulton has set a high bar for herself since her 2007 debut Champian. In recent years she’s released a series of strong albums, each exposing a different aspect of her music. Dream a Little… might be her most pleasingly inviting. From the concise opening title track, she and Weeds establish the house rules with a conversational intimacy that bespeaks trust earned over many years and many gigs. It’s a loose session rife with quicksilver interplay. Fulton isn’t a subtle singer; she’s got an edge of brass in her voice that makes ballads, like a convincing version of “Darn That Dream,” more fulsome laments than whispered confessions. Weeds listens closely and responds in kind, often using his airy lower register as a tonal counterpoint when Fulton’s voice ascends. The album is also a showcase for her pianistic facility. She plays with such swinging joie de vivre on “Once I Had a Secret Love” that it’s easy to forget it’s not an instrumental track.