“Change Partners” CD Release Party & Dedication to Frank Wess

Thanks to everyone who came to Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola last week to celebrate the release of my new album, Change Partners. It was so nice to see so many friendly faces in the audience; I am so flattered that so many of you traveled so far to attend the party.

As you can see in the pictures below, the backdrop for the stage is a beautiful view overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. It was really something to watch the full moon appear on the horizon and continue to rise throughout the entire evening of our performance! I loved being able to play some selections from the record and to talk a little bit about each tune, especially Frank Wess’ composition “You Made a Good Move” (the opening track for the CD).

I know some people will find it odd that I chose an instrumental to be the first song on the album, so I want to tell you a little bit about it. This tune was written by the great Jazz saxophonist Frank Wess, who was also an Oklahoman, like me. Frank was one of the first people I met when I moved to NYC, and we became friends and eventually neighbors. I heard him play this tune a million times, and to me it represents the legacy of his music and his contribution to the legacy of Oklahoma Jazz. It’s the kind of tune that puts everyone in a good mood: it’s swinging, bluesy, and in the “people’s key” of F (haha). Frank passed away last year and I wanted very much to honor him on this record, though I didn’t want to call it a “tribute album” or anything like that. I just want my music to show that I loved him and his music, and I hope to be a continuation of his legacy.

Here are some great pictures from that night, and if you want to share your own here or via other social media sites, please do! Use the hashtag #ChangePartners so I can see them!

Thanks for reading!!!

(In case you’re wondering why you can’t find it on iTunes or amazon: the official international release date of Change Partners is October 28, but if you want a copy right now you can order an autographed copy via my new website –> www.champian.net/shop)

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My Time with Clark Terry: The Clark Terry Institute of Jazz Studies

I first met Clark Terry when I was 6 months old. I met him because my father, Stephen Fulton, and he had been friends since the late 1970’s. It would take me a long time to understand he was famous, in my childhood he was simply like my Grandfather. I drew him pictures for his birthday and holidays, spoke to him on the phone (probably to talk about Barbies). He would let me play with his charm necklace (which had a wheel of cheese charm that he was always trying to convince me was Pacman) and then give me treats from Europe and sometimes money to buy Mommy and Daddy a present as a surprise. I understood he was important, successful, even wealthy – but it was many years later, as I started to become a Jazz musician myself, that I would understand how significant he was in the music.

Little Champian and CT.

Little Champian and CT.

In 1994, my family and I moved to LeMars Iowa so my father could become the director of the Clark Terry International Institute of Jazz Studies. Jazz Education was always an important part of Clark’s career, he taught all over the world, but this was the first and only time he would have his own Institute that would teach the music as he wanted it taught. As the Artistic Director he helped design the curriculum by choosing the tunes the students would learn, the solos they would study to learn theory, (such as Coleman Hawkins’ solo on “Body and Soul”) and by insisting that the “visiting artist series” be a required course for credit.  He chose my father, Stephen Fulton, as the director; the other faculty included Cliff McMurray (drums), Mark Nelms (bass), Morris Nelms (piano), and David “Bull” Stewart (saxophones). The institute would stay open only until 1997, when the university (Westmar University) would begin to go bankrupt and eventually close its doors.

I was 8 years old at the time the institute opened, and just beginning to become seriously interested in being a Jazz musician. Those 3 or so years were truly an idyllic time for me, to be totally surrounded by the study of Jazz. Clark visited the campus a few times during each semester to teach classes, private lessons, and also to perform in a concert with the students, and he also sent his friends like Red Holloway and Butch Miles as “visiting artists” to give clinics to the students while he was away.

Many of the people who taught me lessons, both faculty and students, were kind and generous with their time, but only a few truly took the time to treat me seriously as an aspiring musician. Clark was one of them, Red Holloway another (and of course, my father). Once Clark realized I was serious, there were no holds barred when it came to my musical education. Often we see him smiling and being encouraging, and he often was, but he was also extremely serious and wasn’t afraid to show it. There’s no crying in baseball and no crying in Jazz either, and I learned to take my lumps early on.

It was during that time that I first performed with Clark in public, and it was also during those years that Clark gave me my first paying gig. I had formed a band, “The Little Jazz Quintet” (we were all under the age of 12), and we played mostly Clark’s original tunes as well as some standards. We were young, but we worked hard, and Clark hired us to play his 75th Birthday Party. The party was at my family’s house, and we played a set towards the beginning of the party. Afterwards Clark paid me and explained how to pay my musicians, so that I would be a good bandleader. He counted the money ($50 bills) out on top of my Barbie playhouse.

There are so many stories from this time, and I want to share more of them with you, but for now I will close with some pictures. And please, feel free to comment (especially if you were at the Institute), and share this with your friends! Clark Terry is an extraordinary musician who should be loved, cherished, and thought of often.

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Sneak Peek of “Change Partners”!

It’s 2 weeks until my official CD Release Concert / Party at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City. Have you made your reservations yet?

The many boxes of Change Partners arrived last week, and I have to say – I am pretty excited. There are many stages to making a new CD: planning, rehearsing, recording, mixing, designing, etc., but no matter what, I never feel like the CD is actually happening until I have the final product in my hands. The real product makes it OFFICIAL: I have a new CD.

Since it’s really really really official, I think you should hear it! So I made you a video, complete with pictures from my recent tours, and a 3 minute excerpt of the title track.

Please like, comment, share, and if you REALLY like it, click over to champian.net where you can order your copy (and get a signed copy before everyone else, because you deserve it for reading my blog).

Thank you!!!

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Are CDs Old Hat? Nick Hempton Explores a New Way of Releasing Music

A few days ago I told you about my new CD. It will be a traditional release, meaning there will be physical CDs as well as downloadable tunes on iTunes etc., but these days quite a few artists are choosing alternative ways to release their music. I’ve heard of albums being released only on vinyl and only as downloadable tracks, but one of the most interesting experiments I’ve come across is Nick Hempton’s Catch and Release

Nick has released three traditional albums (check them out on his website NickHemptonBand.com) but he wanted to try something different to further engage the public. The idea behind “Catch and Release” is that the audience will follow Nick’s process for writing the tune, rehearsing the tune, recording the tune, and then releasing the tune. This process will happen every 6 weeks for a year. (Note: Nick isn’t seeking crowdfunding. He just hopes if you like the music, you’ll download the song for $1)

Here he is describing the project:

In the face of a music industry that is rapidly changing, I think this is a bold idea. Many artists and people in the industry claim the CD is on the way out; that people would rather download a tune from the internet than purchase a disc. At the same time, more and more people are releasing music, meaning it is harder and harder to discover independent artists amidst all the noise. With that in mind, I think Nick’s project is a good way of making his music stand out: allowing the public to engage in the artistic process so they feel more connected to the finished product. 

Do you like Nick’s idea of sharing his artistic process? Do you prefer digital downloads or CDs? Let me know in the comments! 

PS – I have it on good authority that if you subscribe to Nick’s Blog, he will send you a tune for FREE. 

PPS – I’d like to be your Facebook Friend

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My New CD “Change Partners” Drops in October!

Summer is officially over. It’s FALL! Time to put away our white jeans, go back to school, and as it turns out, it’s also time to release a new CD! 

Change Partners final cover

“Change Partners” will be available online and in stores October 28, 2014.

We recorded this album live on tour in Canada this past May and here are a few reasons I am really excited about its release: 

1) It’s my first time to record an album live at club, and I was in a great mood, not only because my Oklahoma City Thunder were doing really well in the playoffs (we may or may not have been slightly late to the gig one night because I had to finish the game), but because the audience was really fantastic and gave off a great energy that I think you can hear on the album.

2) Being on tour can be an arduous experience. There are lots of early flights, driving, hotels, and strange food. But being on the road with Jodi, Julian, and Cory was an absolute delight. The entire tour, this recording included, was just a big party. We laughed, we had fun, we spent a lot of time at Pizza Village. 

3) This is my 5th album release as a leader. Want to see the other releases? Visit my website: Champian.net 

4) The cover photo was taken by my very good friend (and amazing photographer!) Antonio Narvaez on a recent trip to Barcelona. 

5) Long story short, I had a wonderful time on the road with these guys and I am thrilled that I am able not only to relive those moments again through this recording, but also to share them with you!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty: “Change Partners” will be officially released online and in stores on October 28, BUT I will be hosting an official CD Release Party on Tuesday October 7 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC. The quartet will play two sets (7:30 and 9:30 PM) and there will be CDs available to take home. You should definitely make reservations: 212-258-9595. You can also make reservations and buy tickets to the show online -> Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola Website 

In the coming weeks I will be sharing one of the tunes from the new album and links on where to buy if you can’t come see me in person. (But check out my upcoming calendar just in case). 

Thank you so much for your support :) 

Please share this post with your friends and comment & “like” if you’re happy! 

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