Bill Charlap Trio – Notes From New York – Impulse!

by | May 22, 2016 | Jazz CD Reviews

Bill Charlap Trio – Notes From New York – Impulse! B0024830-02, 54:02 ****:

The epitome of an elegant, intelligent, mainstream pianist.

(Bill Charlap – piano; Peter Washington – bass; Kenny Washington – drums)

Whitney Balliett (now deceased) writing for The New Yorker on April 19,1999 said this of Bill Charlap (then 32) as he was beginning to make his mark on the jazz scene: “His sound shines; each note is rounded. Best of all, in almost every number regardless of its speed, he leaves us a phrase, a group of irregular notes, an ardent bridge that shakes us.” Now almost twenty years later, with the same trio (Peter Washington – bass/ Kenny Washington – drums [not related]) that has been with him for about the same period, Bill Charlap and his band-mates continue to bristle with exuberance, and maintain an intriguing interchange that makes them one of the premier jazz trios of the day.

The release of Notes From New York, is the band’s first recording on Impulse! For the most part, they eschew the tried and true song selections, for a more varied choice of lesser-known numbers, on which they can extend their imprimatur. Although the opener “I’ll Remember April” has been a jazz favorite almost from its inception in 1942, Charlap uses his expressive resources to avoid the musical clichés, which could have otherwise inhibited his interpretation.

As a smartly persuasive pianist, Charlap operates in perfect sync with the two Washington’s, thereby establishing their internal counterpoint and musical structures that gives numbers such as “ Make Me A Rainbow”, “Not A Care In The World” and “There Is No Music” authoritative purpose and insightful readings. Thad Jones penned “Little Rascal On A Rock” for the 1975 release Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra New Life: Dedicated To Max Gordon. The number is filled with the customary intricacies associated with Jones’ writing, which Charlap tackles with his usual aplomb and demonstrative suppleness.

The longest track of the session is “Too Late Now” written by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner for the 1951 musical Royal Wedding directed by Stanley Donen. Performed as a love song in the movie by Jane Powell, the ballad structure is unchanged by Charlap and company with ample space created for bassist Washington to demonstrate his big-tone fleet-fingered style. Charlap’s own exploration of the tune is supple and eloquent. While youngbloods like Christian Sands and Aaron Diehl are snapping at his heels, Bill Charlap continues to be the epitome of an elegant, intelligent mainstream pianist.

TrackList: I’ll Remember April; Make Me Rainbows; Not A Care In The World; There Is No Music; A Sleepin’ Bee; Little Rascal On A Rock; Too Late Now; Tiny’s Tempo; On The Sunny Side Of The Street

—Pierre Giroux

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