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Sandy Stewart & Bill Charlap: Something to Remember

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In the early 1960s, Sandy Stewart seemed poised for a solid career as a pop stylist, scoring a hit with her Grammy-nominated “My Coloring Book” and becoming a staple of primetime variety shows. But soon after she married songwriter Moose Charlap, Stewart chose homemaking over singing, raising three children including youngest son and future jazz piano virtuoso Bill. It wasn’t until a full decade after her husband’s premature death in 1974 that Stewart returned to the recording studio, serving up a superb platter of Jerome Kern tunes alongside Dick Hyman. Sporadic projects followed, including Love Is Here to Stay, a 2005 pairing with Bill. By then, Stewart’s sunny voice had settled into a darker, richer space.

Now, at age 75, Stewart has again united with her son, her never-wide range further reduced but her jazz-meets-cabaret interpretive skills reaching new heights. The pace across all 15 tracks is ruminatively slow, the hushed grandeur of both singer and pianist strongly reminiscent of Shirley Horn.

Though the playlist is peppered with bright tunes, lovely readings of “Somebody Loves Me” and “The Best Thing for You” among them, Stewart and Charlap favor contemplative pieces well suited to the pervading mellowness. All are affecting, though particularly powerful are the duo’s achingly beautiful “Where Do You Start?,” their delicate meander through “Two for the Road” and a three-in-the-morning treatment of Moose’s “I Was Telling Him About You.”

Originally Published