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Fulton Tashombe

Consummate Maui musician is at the top of his game.

June 24, 2014
Louise Lambert - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

Fulton Tashombe is in demand as an arranger, producer, pianist and vocalist. A stellar recording artist and entertainer at five-star resorts and corporate events, he performs at major jazz festivals throughout the world, and occasionally with The Whispers, the Los Angeles-based R&B band.

Originally from San Francisco, he attended UC Berkeley and Stanford. For many years, Fulton was the music director and pianist/entertainer at the Kea Lani. Last month, he opened the Al Jarreau concert with Benny Uyetake. He recently played at the Playboy Jazz Festival with Tuck and Patti, and bassist Marcus Miller.

Fulton paid for his first recording with money he made teaching piano. Two men from a San Francisco recording company found his old record at a garage sale and offered him an eight-song CD deal--45 years later!

Article Photos

Last month, Fulton Tashombe (right) and Benny Uyetake opened for Al Jarreau (left).

Recently, at the Front Street Jazz & Blues Walk event, the expression in Fulton's singing and playing called to my heart. He touched his audience soul to soul, capturing us with a spiritual connection, dwelling in space--never overplaying.

Fulton survived a double lung transplant at UCLA Medical Center last year, and is back at the top of his game. After his near-death experience, he now values every moment; every note. He's currently writing a book about singing. Jarreau taught him to savor every word.

Fulton taught choir at Pomaika'i Elementary School. They placed in Na Mele O Maui competition. Much to the judges' confusion, the deaf children in his choir were inspired to sing, though they had practiced signing silently. Fulton felt the love, excitement and joy these young people expressed, "singing" from their hearts and souls.

Fulton draws inspiration from his mentors--Jimmy Borges, George Paoa and Sam Ahia--who helped Fulton play Hawaiian jazz, and from Hiromi, "the greatest pianist I ever heard." She's Fulton's favorite.

"Every gig is an opportunity to touch and move someone," said Fulton. "Chops don't matter; essence matters and being able to connect."

Before jamming with Herbie Hancock, Fulton and the group held hands together and chanted, feeling that connection.

Fulton loves playing at Gannon's Red Bar, and his most fun gig is at Java Jazz, where he can "let his hair down"--although he is bald by design. Catch him on Thursdays at Pineapple Grill, and Sundays with Kelly Covington at Japengo at the Hyatt.

Maui's Swing Queen, jazz vocalist and pianist Louise Lambert, and her band perform at Three's Bar & Grill on Friday nights and at Kono's in Kihei on Wednesdays. She teaches voice, piano and "How to Sing and Play in a Band Workshops" for all ages. She also provides world-class musical entertainment for special events. Contact her at, or (808) 205-3971.



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