Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bill Charlap - Stardust

Although he had made a few records previously, by the time that pianist Bill Charlap cut All Through the Night in 1997, it was obvious that the connection established with trio mates Peter and Kenny Washington was a special one, capable of great finesse and intuitiveness. People in the upstairs offices at Blue Note also must have known a good thing when they heard it because it wasn’t long before Charlap was inking his first major label deal. Written in the Stars would be his initial Blue Note offering, and there was much to recommend, however Stardust strikes a sophisticated pose that ups the ante even further. The American Popular Song has always been Charlap’s fodder (no surprise there considering that his father composed for the Broadway stage), however there’s a new concept at play with Stardust in that the entire program consists of Hoagy Carmichael originals. “The Nearness of You,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “Skylark,” and the title track are the most widely known items, balanced very astutely by some equally beguiling, if lesser known, chestnuts. ”I Get Along Without You Very Well” is a masterpiece of invention and surely one of the greatest lines that Carmichael ever penned and guest Tony Bennett’s rendition is fine enough, even if the vocalist’s pipes are not quite what they used to be. Shirley Horn’s husky whisper envelops “Stardust” and again nothing much all that revelatory occurs. It’s with the instrumental numbers that things really begin to coalesce. Frank Wess gets that breathy swagger going and things start to swing as “Rockin’ Chair” reaches for that ‘adult tempo’ (as Kenny Washington calls it) that puts a smile on one’s face. Jim Hall’s appearance on “Two Sleepy People” helps to paint additional hues on an already panchromatic view of another obscure gem. Really only “Jubilee” and “I Walk With Music” get above a slow ballad tempo, but it’s that opportunity to luxuriate in the wide open spaces that helps Charlap get his point across in a way that’s deeply satisfying. Classy and accessible, Stardust is piano trio jazz that’s right up there with as good as it gets. - by C. Andrew Hovan,

Though his debut on record occurred only eight years prior to Stardust, pianist Bill Charlap has become well known for his lush, poignant reading of the standards. On his second date for Blue Note, Charlap and his rhythm section lovingly re-create 11 songs by songster Hoagy Carmichael, and are joined by some truly big talents. Tony Bennett joins in on a spare arrangement of "I Get Along Without You Very Well," Shirley Horn graces an exceptional "Stardust" (perhaps Carmichael's best-known ballad), and guitarist Jim Hall's robust, muted tone is featured on "Two Sleepy People." However, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess damn near steals the show with his warm, languid playing on "Rockin' Chair" and "Blue Orchids." - by John Duffy, AMG

Artist: Bill Charlap
Album: Stardust
Year: 2001
Label: Blue Note (2002)
Runtime: 68:16

1.  Jubilee (Stanley Adams/Hoagy Carmichael) 3:10
2.  I Get Along Without You Very Well (Hoagy Carmichael) 6:39
3.  Rockin' Chair (Hoagy Carmichael) 7:21
4.  I Walk With Music (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 5:03
5.  Two Sleepy People (Hoagy Carmichael/Frank Loesser) 6:37
6.  The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington) 7:28
7.  One Morning In May (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 6:48
8.  Blue Orchids (Hoagy Carmichael) 5:57
9.  Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell) 5:44
10.  Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish) 9:27
11.  Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) 3:55

Bill Charlap (Piano)
Kenny Washington (Drums)
Peter Washington (Double Bass)
Tony Bennett (Vocals) - 2
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone) - 3,8
Shirley Horn (Vocals) - 10
Jim Hall (Guitar) - 5


  1. I've heard a LOT of Blue Note in my day, and especially considering the guests on this LP I can't believe I'd not heard of Bill Charlap until now. Thanks for posting this, really looking forward to listening!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...