Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2013: Champian Fulton Trio

Champian Fulton Trio, Palazzo Spiegeltent, Edinburgh, Sunday July 28th ****

Well. Just as those of us who have soldiered through the whole jazz festival were suffering from a final wave of jazz lag, along came the young American pianist and singer Champian Fulton. And if there was a way to end the festival in style – and with hitherto flagging spirits revived – her uplifting concert at the Spiegeltent last night was it.

Comparisons to Diana Krall are clearly misguided. Where Krall has always been sultry and looked sullen while putting over her material, Fulton is cheery and positively beamed through all her songs last night, flashing an infectious smile at all sections of the audience as she swivelled herself around on her piano stool. With a beautiful, clear, sweet and commanding voice and simple yet affecting delivery, she was a delight on every song – from such happy-go-lucky numbers as I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter to a superb blues, It’s Too Late Baby, which demonstrated that she has real presence and underlined the influence of Dinah Washington on her singing style.

Other highlights included a wonderful Tea for Two which boasted an elegant duet with bass player Mario Caribe, and a lovely, lesser-known Eubie Blake/Andy Razaf ballad I’d Give a Dollar for a Dime, which featured a Fulton piano solo rich in Erroll Garner touches, a recurring theme on every tune and one which almost distracted from how accomplished she is as a swinging, dynamic instrumentalist.

* First published in The Scotsman on Monday July 29th

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