Notes From New York (Impulse Records)

Bill Charlap Trio

Released April 2016

DownBeat Five-Star Review




The Bill Charlap Trio conjures a groove. Each tune layered with the best history of jazz. These aren’t just “notes.” Notes from New York” is a compendium. Charlap’s time is perfect, whether he’s swinging or dancing on the keys with aplomb and grace.
As a unit, this must be one of the best piano trios ever (alongside Kenny Barron & Brad Mehldau trios latest albums) and certainly as instantly recognizable as any of its great predecessors. Charlap’s touch on the keyboard is light, almost stealthy, even when playing full chords, but always firm, clear and beautifully articulated. With the spirited support of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, famously unrelated by the way, the total effect is just perfect.
Bill provides the listener with plenty of space to admire the songs he’s chosen and what he’s doing with them. Playing gentle is no easy. There’s enormous complexity required by those artists who compel audiences to lean forward.
Ahmad Jamal and his trio did this brilliantly in the 1950s. Same goes for trios led by George Shearing, Red Garland and Bill Evans. Allowing glorious songs to breathe requires the artist to stir up musical drama through storytelling, beauty and poise. Restraint and a keen understanding of poetry are key to reach such mastery of playing.
You can find all these qualities here which, of course, has made this album a favorite of the whole Jazz Messengers crew right away. It’s going to sound on speakers for quite a while!!

Track Listing:

1. I’ll Remember April (Gene DePaul / Patricia Johnston / Don Raye) 4:55

2. Make Me Rainbows (Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / John Williams) 7:04

3. Not a Care in the World (Vernon Duke / John Latouche) 5:59

4. There Is No Music (Ira Gershwin / Harry Warren) 6:08

5. A Sleepin’ Bee (Harold Arlen / Truman Capote) 4:52

6. Little Rascal on a Rock (Thad Jones) 5:07

7. Too Late Now (Burton Lane / Alan Jay Lerner) 8:54

8. Tiny’s Tempo (Lloyd Grimes / Clyde Hart) 5:59

9- On the Sunny Side of the Street (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh) 5:03


Bill Charlap: piano

Peter Washington: bass

Kenny Washington: drums

Recorded at Avatar Studios, NYC June 1-2, 2015

Recorded & Mixed by James Farber

Produced by Bill Charlap

Executive Producer & Art Direction: Farida Bachir


Bill Charlap is often described as the epitome of mainstream pianists, in the tradition of iconic players from Art Tatum to Ahmad Jamal. But the term “mainstream” becomes meaningless when one considers Charlap’s technical mastery, his subtelty and his unflagging melodic invention—or should we say, re-invention. Fresh from the critical and popular triumph of The Silver Lining, his Jerome Kern tribute with Tony Bennett, the new album with his finely calibrated trio (Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums) is his first for the newly reinvented Impulse! label. It delivers nine standards, only three of which are widely familiar (“I’ll Remember April,” “A Sleepin’ Bee,” and “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”). The rest of the program is devoted to obscure but delightful songs from the worlds of Broadway, film and jazz. The album is a master class in, well, class. The opening track, “I’ll Remember April,” is alone worth the price of the album. Starting with its intro, in which Charlap manipulates our perception of where the bar line is, he plays with time and reharmonizes the song in continually surprising ways. Other highlights include Thad Jones’ bouncy, unpredictable “Little Rascal On A Rock” and a joyous excursion into bebop à la Bird with “Tiny’s Tempo.” Saving the best for last, Charlap’s solo-piano interpretation of “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” challenges our notions of this most familiar song. He plays it very slowly and thoroughly reharmonizes it, turning it into a wistful tone poem loaded with nostalgia for a bygone era.

Allen Morrison (DownBeat)