Bill Charlap Trio
Street of Dreams
The jazz piano trio is a thing of beauty – a real test of interplay and musicianship, and of course the mercurial time-stretch between all of this; players working their own magic as a way to channel a collective good – a communal sound that feels as if the trio itself is a single instrument. On the piano wing here we have Bill Charlap, a wonderful player who excels as both accompanist and leader, as composer and interpreter of songbook standards. His bassist is Peter Washington, a lovely sound is conjured – from the long, loping walks here (Your Host) to more dexterous showcases (Out of Nowhere). And on drums, no relation to Peter, Kenny Washington. His brushwork is simply sublime. This trio has been together across nearly 25 years and there might not be a better working unit in modern jazz.
What a delight to hear them here tackling songbook classics – but not necessarily the obvious choices. When they go for Brubeck it’s The Duke. From a subdued state, this song moves from the soft-shoe shuffle of Kenny Washington’s brushes to some punctuating stick-to-cymbal crashes. And Charlap is so expressive across the keys that you can be fooled into thinking this is the sound of a much bigger combo.
The beautiful You’re All The World To Me (forever a staple of Tony Bennett’s setlists) is so exquisitely rendered here, again the brushes lay the groundwork for Charlap to step over and pounce in-between.
The Michel Legrand ballad, What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?, is the album’s penultimate stop – and it’s really something to hear how Charlap can set up a piece as a soloist.
No egos here – just collective playing to usher in wonderful music.
They’re a total class act and this might be the best the trio has ever been. If you’re a fan of small combo and trio jazz, you need to hear this. The playing is utterly sublime, and the selection of tunes is perfect.