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Bill Charlap & Gary Hobbs at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Bill Charlap

With a three-week schedule of 53 performances in concert halls and clubs across the city, Seattle’s Earshot Festival presented listeners with difficult choices. On this evening, Charlap and Hobbs were in competition with each other and with Luciana Souza, Bobo Stenson, Ravi Coltrane and pianists Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz. Apart from Earshot, downstairs from Charlap’s trio in Benaroya Hall the Seattle Symphony Orchestra was offering Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. Paul McCartney drew thousands to the massive Key Arena.

Charlap attracted to the elegant recital hall a couple of hundred rapt listeners whose attentiveness was rewarded. The pianist, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington worked from the Gershwin and Bernstein song books that provided material for their two most recent Blue Note CDs. Nearly a year after recording the Gershwin and two after the Bernstein, the trio are as one with the material. Performed frequently, the arrangements have inevitably assumed something of the nature of set pieces, but on this night the creative playing they contained was anything but routine. In a pre-concert talk, Charlap discussed Gershwin’s place in musical theater and in jazz. He then drew from the deep store of melodies and harmonic possibilities that is Gershwin’s legacy to improvising musicians.

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