The Things We Did Last Summer
Champian Fulton & Scott Hamilton
By Scott Yanow
The Things We Did Last Summer features a logical matchup. Champian Fulton is a pianist who can emulate Erroll Garner (as she does during the opening part of “When Y our Lover Has Gone”) and sometimes uses chord voicings reminiscent of Red Garland, but mostly swings in her own voice. She also has a distinctive vocal style that is touched at times by Dinah Washington. Tenor-saxophonist Scott Hamilton, who was a major force in the revival of small group swing in the 1970s, has been remarkably consistent ever since. He has led over 65 CDs in his career thus far, never veering from his chosen path of straight ahead jazz nor putting out a single dud.
For this set which was recorded live in Spain in 2017, Fulton and Hamilton are supported quietly and tastefully by bassist Ignasi Gonzalez and drummer Esteve Pi. They explore eight standards with the pianist singing on five of the numbers. “When Your Lover Has Gone” is taken as a solid swinger while a ten-minute “Black Velvet” (which is also known as “Don’t You Go Away Mad”) is played as an instrumental. Things really get cooking during an uptempo “I Cried For You” with Hamilton sounding a bit explosive. His warm tone and Fulton’s attractive chord voicings uplift “The Things We Did Last Summer”.
“Too Marvelous For Words” has Champian Fulton engaging in some conversational singing/talking that is reminiscent of Ernestine Anderson and Etta Jones. She never really states the melody in her vocal, nor needs to since Hamilton’s playing is pretty melodic. A slow ballad version of the 1930s obscurity “My Future Just Passed” (with Hamilton’s tenor blending in well behind the vocal), an uptempo “Runnin’ Wild”, and a laidback “The Very Thought Of You” conclude the fine set.
While there are no real surprises to The Things We Did Last Summer, the predictable excellence of Champian Fulton and Scott Hamilton is always worth hearing.
Champian Fulton, piano, vocals; Scott Hamilton, tenor; Ignasi Gonzalez, bass; Esteve Pi, drums
When Your Lover Has Gone; Black Velvet; I Cried For You; The Things We Did Last Summer; Too Marvelous For Words; My Future Just Passed; Runnin’ Wild; The Very Thought Of You.