Bill Charlap Trio | Uptown Downtown

by Jeff Becker

Pianist, Bill Charlap has performed with many leading artists in jazz, ranging from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. He is known for his interpretations of American popular songs and has recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin.  A Grammy recipient, Charlap and his longtime trio partners bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington step into the classic light with an album of stellar compositions, entitled Uptown Downtown.

It is hard to believe it has already been 20 years on the bandstand for this trio and Uptown Downtown certainly solidifies why this trio continues to constitute the pinnacle of jazz performances.

“The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else” is given an up-tempo treatment with nice brush work from Kenny Washington. Charlap’s playing is in top form on this track. His lines are clearly articulated with excellent flow through the changes. Charlap takes his time on this one, building his solo by increasing his right-hand activity and climbing in register. The trio simply swings throughout this track, bassist Peter Washington it is all about the fee and the trio nails it!

The trio settles in for another energetic selection with “Satellite.” The hits are spot on and with Kenny Washington on sticks for this up-tempo selection it gives an entirely different feel and energy than “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else.” Charlap’s playing responds in kind, his lines are playful and driving, but he never loses focus on developing a clear melody that speaks through the changes. He uses more chords to build his solo and each chordal hit is accented by the Washington’s, adding to the enjoyment of the performances.

A solid trio outing throughout, proof positive a trio that plays together sways together, and these gentlemen swing!  A highly enjoyable listen.