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November 2005

Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart
Love is Here to Stay
Blue Note Records

There are more far famous songs than "After You" in the Cole Porter canon, but few as tenderly, nakedly lovely. There are far more famous voices in the pop-jazz canon than Sandy Stewart's, but few as tenderly, nakedly lovely. When the two come together, it's a study in assured elegance, as is the union of Stewart and Bill Charlap, the most assuredly elegant jazz pianist of his generation and, as it happens, Stewart's son.

It's been over four decades since Stewart cut My Coloring Book, the Colpix album that would prove both her career's ignition and, in terms of widespread recognition, its apex, so Charlap's is obviously the album's marquee name. But the strength, and beauty, of this 11-track collection of standards is familial chemistry. Indeed, it's obvious, listening to Charlap match his mother's shadowy vocals, so powerfully reminiscent of Lee Wiley's Park Avenue polish, caress for velvety caress, that the acorn didn't fall too far from the tree.

Despite the towering presence of Porter, Rodgers and Hart ("Dancing On the Ceiling"), Irving Berlin ("Always") and the Gershwins' title track, the sweetest sounds here are from the two least familiar tunes: the gently exuberant "Here I Am in Love Again" and achingly reflective "I'll Never Go There Anymore." Both songs were written by Stewart's late husband (and Bill's father), Morris "Moose" Charlap, extending the cross-generational genius from double to triple.

Originally published in November 2005
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