Vocalist-pianist Champian Fulton knows from legendary horn players. Before her first birthday she was introduced to Clark Terry. She cut her jazz teeth in and around the Terry-named International Institute of Jazz Studies, run by her trumpeter father, Steve Fulton. And at age 10, the prodigy performed at Terry’s 75th birthday festivities. Later, she studied under another trumpet great, Jon Faddis, at SUNY Purchase.
So the fact that Fulton, now 32, has joined forces with the master saxophonist Scott Hamilton is not surprising. They’ve performed together before, in New York, but this hour-long live session unfolded this past April in Spain, at the Espai de la Música Mestre Vila in Benicàssim. Sharing the stage are two excellent, long-established Spaniards, bassist Ignasi Gonzalez and drummer Esteve Pi.
As a pianist, Fulton, a dextrous, imaginative player, blends beautifully with the astute Hamilton. Their shared inventiveness is evident across everything from a satiny meander through the title cut to a freewheeling “Runnin’ Wild” and, the set’s apex, a 10-minute twining of Illinois Jacquet’s “Black Velvet” and “Don’cha Go ’Way Mad.” Indeed, they are so simpatico, so mutually respectful that this might have worked better as a purely instrumental album. Which isn’t to malign the vocals Fulton adds to five of eight tracks, her ripened sound marrying Nancy Wilson sophistication to Dinah Washington-styled phrasing. Particular affecting is her dreamily insinuating take on “My Future Just Passed.”
Preview, buy or download songs from the album The Things We Did Last Summer by Champian Fulton & Scott Hamilton on iTunes.