Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Somewhere: Songs of Leonard Bernstein
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
New York pianist Bill Charlap is comfortable straddling musical fences. He comes from the pianistic legacy of Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones, yet he's comfortable mixing it up with likes of Steely Dan. Here, with bassist Pe... more »
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New York pianist Bill Charlap is comfortable straddling musical fences. He comes from the pianistic legacy of Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones, yet he's comfortable mixing it up with likes of Steely Dan. Here, with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington (arguably the best rhythm section happening in jazz today), Charlap explores the Broadway tunes of classical composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. Charlap's piano lines glide over the keyboard with vocal-like fluidity, especially on the finger snapped bounce of "Cool," the Cuban cadences of "America," and the brush-stroked "Glitter to Be Gay." Charlap's reading of "Some Other Time" reveals the harmonic DNA of Bill Evans' "Peace Piece" and "Flamenco Sketches" from Kind of Blue. "Big Stuff" rocks in rhythm with a stridish, Count Basie-type intro, which morphs into an Ahmad Jamal-like motif. Charlap's solo performance of "Somewhere" shows that Bernstein was the intersection of the classics, American popular song, and jazz. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 04/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"He really wanted to be remembered as a classical composer. Alas, that was not to be. But from the evidence here presented, absolutely marvelously, it must be said, Leonard Bernstein will certainly be remembered as one of the standout contributors to the great American songbook, right up there with Sammy Kahn, George Gershwin, and Hoagy Carmichael. And Bill Charlap is the perfect musician to make the case for Lenny's enshrinement in the American pop composers' hall of fame. Moreover, this represents a kind of coming into fruition and delayed recognition for Charlap, a jazz warrior who's labored in the trenches with scant recognition lo these many years. With Somewhere he's found entirely congenial material, the perfect bandmates, and the ideal label to treat him properly and get the word out. The results speak for themselves: sheerly beautiful playing in the context of grand architectural approaches to the material; in short, jazz of the highest order. Charlap seems to understand Bernstein like no other interpreter. For example, he always finds just the right mode of expression, be it the thin ray of hope shining through the quiet despair of "Lonely Town," or the sad irony of "Glitter and Be Gay," or the bluesy center of "Big Stuff," or the lazy down-home vibe of America's rural heartland in "Ohio," or the sheer exuberance of "America," slyly reconfigured in such a way as both to enhance its immigrant heart and to celebrate its vision of the endless possibilities of the land of the free and the home of the brave. A stunningly wistful solo reading of "Somewhere" caps off a recording of the absolute highest accomplishment. A note about the Washingtons (not related), Peter on bass and Kenny on drums. They form the perfect partnership with the leader, by turns sensual, swaggering, and nuanced; whatever is called for, they deliver the goods. All in all, a thoroughly remarkable performance. Don't miss it."
Elegant and Subtle
Jan P. Dennis | 04/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What sets Bill Charlap apart from his contemporaries is not so much his technique, which is formidable, but the fact that he refuses to take that technique for a walk at the expense of the integrity of a song. Except in obvious show pieces, he doesn't gratuitously show off, and this is true in up-tempo numbers as well as lyrical ones. He also understands better than any other jazz pianist how crucial moments of not playing are to moments of playing; his silences are exquisite and exquisitely framed by his bandmates. He is quoted as saying that after he listens to his recordings, he never wishes he had added notes to a particular passage only that he had played fewer. In this age of the blunt and gaudy, such quiet elegance is rare and inestimable. The reviewer above who gave the CD mediocre marks doesn't know what he's talking about. This is a magnificent recording, offering to those willing to delight in them, subtle jazz harmonies and rhythms in abundance."
Rob Watkins | Augusta, Georgia United States | 05/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"leonard bernstein was vocal in his appreciation for jazz, often incorporating its rhythms and stylings into his classical compositions. mr. bernstein once said that all music was jazz. listening to this CD, i imagine mr. bernstein would smile as it unfolded.bill charlap comes from the school of elegant swing epitomized by hank jones and tommy flanagan, and here uses that approach to give voice to the textures and colors of these songs. two highlights: the opening "cool" takes on a vibe and punch that the original broadway song only hints at, while mr. charlap brings out the haunting essence of lostness in the title tune "somewhere." so goes the entire program, a great mix and balance between hard driving bop and delicate ballads. the effect is winning, as the listener is drawn in and kept focused. this is one CD that ends with a desire to play the whole thing over again.other jazz artists have reflected on mr. bernstein's work, and this set certainly merits a place among the best of those sets, for example, oscar peterson's and dave brubeck's. give this a listen, and you will enjoy it."