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Bill Charlap

Bill Charlap

He’s played with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Phil Woods, and Tony Bennett, but the best way to hear what pianist Bill Charlap is made of is to check out Bill Charlap, respected extender of the grand jazz piano trio tradition, doing his best to give new fire to an old flame. The 32-year-old pianist does that, masterfully, on his latest of three recordings for Criss Cross, All Through the Night, with empathetic compadres bassist Peter and drummer Kenny Washington.

It’s a trio outing, for sure, with kindly and smart crosstalk amongst the players, but there’s no mistaking the centrality of Charlap’s assured voice. Here’s a pianist who swings naturally, without either pretension or disingenuous laxity. Charlap treats classic, yet not overplayed melodies-“Roundabout,” “Pure Imagination,” “Nobody’s Heart”-andspins off on delightful, controlled tangents, technical aplomb and creative spirit intact. For this, he has won growing admiration from musicians, critics and others concerned with music for its own sake, if not general public adulation.

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