Somewhere (Blue Note)

Bill Charlap Trio

Released March 15, 2004

Grammy Nominee Best Jazz Instrumental Album 2005




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.

Track Listing:

1. Cool (Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim) 4:02

2. Lucky to Be Me (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / Adolph Green) 4:49

3. It’s Love (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / Adolph Green) 5:42

4. Lonely Town (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / Adolph Green) 6:37

5. Jump (Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim) 2:32

6. Some Other Time (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / A. Judson Green) 6:57

7. Glitter and Be Gay (Leonard Bernstein / Richard Wilbur) 7:36

8. A Quiet Girl (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / Adolph Green) 1:35

9. Big Stuff (Leonard Bernstein) 5:38

10. America (Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim) 3:53

11. Ohio (Leonard Bernstein / Betty Comden / Adolph Green) 7:18

12. Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim) 2:58


Bill Charlap: piano

Peter Washington: bass

Kenny Washington: drums

Recorded October 15-16, 2003 The Hit Factory NYC

Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Joel Moss

Mastered by Ric Wilson

Art Direction: Burton Yount

Design: Karen Thomas

Photography by Donald Dietz


In 2002, Bill Charlap and his trusty trio mates, Peter and Kenny Washington (no relation), released their second Blue Note CD, a centennial tribute to the music of Hoagy Carmichael, to considerable critical acclaim. Here the trio turns its attention and remarkable talents to the music of the inimitable Leonard Bernstein, with selections from West Side StoryOn the TownWonderful TownCandide, and Fancy Free. Bernstein was no stranger to jazz, and West Side Story has previously been mined by more than a dozen jazz musicians, including Stan Kenton, Bill Barron, Marian McPartland, Oscar Peterson, Andre Previn, Buddy Rich, and Cal Tjader. 
Charlap, son of singer Sandy Stewart, who toured with Benny Goodman and the late composer Moose Charlap, who wrote much of the music for Broadway’s Peter Pan in the ‘50s, grew up to the accompaniment of show tunes, and his attraction to and love for the genre have been apparent throughout his career. Charlap’s prodigious technique allows him to play anything his muse imagines, and his creativity, lyricism, and the rapport he shares with the Washingtons, both superb jazz musicians in their own right, combine to make this one of the premier trios working today. 

The album is nicely paced, with dash and spice from the West Side Story selections (the edgy “Cool,” frenetic “Jump,” and rhythmically intoxicating “America”) interspersed with lush ballads (“Lonely Town,” “Some Other Time,” and “Somewhere”). “Lucky to Be Me” swings gently; “It’s Love” is brisk and up-tempo (listen for the “Polkadots and Moonbeams” quote); the harmonically quirky “Glitter and Be Gay” (at 7 ½ minutes, the longest selection) is pensive and poignant; “Ohio,” wry, bluesy and nostalgic; the lovely waltz “A Quiet Girl,” much too brief. The trio plays with such taste, nuance and sensitivity to Bernstein’s intent that one can almost hear the lyrics, as each selection is played. 
It’s a “piece o’ cake” to say that Somewhere is the next jewel in Bill Charlap’s crown, and to predict that this 37-year-old has as bright a future as any pianist on the jazz spectrum.

J. Robert Bragonier (All About Jazz)