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Dave Brubeck Quartet and Bill Smith at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Bill Charlap

Pianist Bill Charlap and his trusty bandmates, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, did an early-spring week at the newly reopened Jazz Standard in support of Stardust, his second Blue Note CD, a tribute to the music of Hoagy Carmichael. The opening night was strictly trio, but guest stars from the recording were to follow (Jim Hall on the 10th and Frank Wess on the 11th). There was plenty of Carmichael in Charlap’s performance, but other worthy material as well. Charlap, the son of songwriter and a singer Moose Charlap, knows a good song when he hears one and what to do with it when he sits down to play.

Charlap brings all kinds of intelligence to the piano bench and he employs it to enhance the natural talent he has further developed over the years. This was in evidence on Johnny Carisi’s “Israel,” where he used portions of the arrangement from the original Miles Davis Nonet recording, including Miles’ first chorus, before getting into his own exploration of the minor blues. I believe I heard an allusion to Lee Konitz’s solo later on.

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