Want a recipe for success? Take one part consummate A1 piano accompanist, Bill Charlap, and team him up in a duo recording with Mr. Soulful Tenor Sax Titan, Houston Person. Let Person produce the CD and use songs from the Great American Songbook. To top off your surefire hit, you let the session be engineered, mixed and mastered by the best in the business, Mr. Rudy Van Gelder. Voila! End of story. You’ve got your masterpiece, High Note’s new Person/Charlap duo release: You Taught My Heart to Sing. Let me sing its praises…
Charlap hits all the right notes, never overplaying and always expressing the composer’s intent with no wasted motion. He makes the Great American Songbook his own, played with respect, playful yet with the full treatment that each song deserves. You hear Sweet Lorraine so often that you cringe when you see it on a song list. Yet in Charlap’s hands, it brightens up and you anxiously await each new chorus. Will it be played in a stride manner or slow and caressing?
The title track, McCoy Tyner’s You Taught My Heart to Sing is gorgeous both when Charlap takes the time to play each chorus with impeccable taste and also when Person enters with his deep muscular vibrato. You are hearing an old master at work being backed by the new young master seemingly wise light years beyond his age. The word “classy” is banded about with little concern of how rarely it should be used. It takes listening to too many musicians going through the motions or playing way too many notes with not enough “breathing room” to let the music seep in. Charlap and Person on this CD personify class. Case closed!
But before we close this review with a well-deserved 5 stars, mention must be made of the stunning sonics. Van Gelder has recorded so many sessions, probably more than any other living audio engineer. They usually involve at bare minimum a trio. I can’t imagine more than 1% of his sessions involving solo or duo recordings. His work here is stunning. On quality equipment it will be breathtaking, literally like you are in the same room with the musicians, no more than 10 feet from them. Each piano note is crystal clear and Person’s breathy tenor timbre is magically caught.
Could we give this CD 6 stars? It deserves a new category!
Songs: You Taught My Heart to Sing, Namely You, Where Are You, Sweet Lorraine, If I Ruled the World, S’Wonderful, Where is the Love, I Was Telling Her About You, Don’t Forget the Blues, I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone
– Jeff Krow