Bill Charlap, piano, Plays George Gershwin – The American Soul (with Peter Washington, bass; Kenny Washington, drums; Phil Woods, alto sax; Frank Wess, tenor sax; Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Slide Hampton, trombone) – Blue Note

by | Jul 22, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Bill Charlap, piano, Plays George Gershwin – The American Soul
(with Peter Washington, bass; Kenny Washington, drums; Phil Woods, alto
sax; Frank Wess, tenor sax; Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Slide Hampton,
trombone) – Blue Note 60669-2 3 ****:

The title comes from the historical position of Gershwin in American
music at the time of this death in l937 at only age 38.  He was
the pivotal force in American music at the time – truly The American
Soul.  His wonderful songs, with the thought of his brother Ira’s
witty and intellectual lyrics always in mind, became super-standards
for jazz improvisers ever since.  And those we have at hand the
latest contribution to a long tradition of Gershwin albums.

Charlap did the arrangements for the septet, and what a septet he
assembled for this session! They’re all tops on their respective axes
and on the six of the ten tracks on which they are heard they all shine
– whether its a chart so subtle that the seven musicians sound almost
more sotto voce than the standard piano trio featured on the other four
tracks. The ballads how Long Has This Been Goin’ On? and Bess You Is My
Woman Now are delivered lovingly by Frank Wess and Phil Woods
respectively. Payton is a newcomer but what a comer! His solos fit
right into the sparkling mood celebrating one of the greatest figures
in American music history (along with Ellington of course). Sonics are
clean and wide range but it would still be really nice to have this
masterpiece in SACD.

– John Henry

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