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Bill Charlap-Renee Rosnes at Musical Instrument Museum

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Bill Charlap-Renee Rosnes
Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix, Arizona
June 4, 2014

Facing each other at a nestled pair of nine-foot concert grand pianos, Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
b.1966
piano
and Renee Rosnes
Renee Rosnes
Renee Rosnes
b.1962
piano
combined their 20 fingers for a compelling concert that didn't rely solely on the Great American Songbook. While there was a bit of George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
and Richard Rodgers, the program offered a refreshingly varied and intriguing repertoire.

They mostly worked from charts related to their CD, Double Portrait (Blue Note, 2014). Playing with the piano tops removed, their eye contact was supplemented by slight head nods and an occasional hand-lift by Charlap. The all- duets program had no solo selections or vocals, nor did the pair change pianos to afford listeners better views of each at the keys, as sometimes occurs in two-piano performances.

Charlap welcomed the audience of 300 by acknowledging that the pair is married (2007 in New York's Lincoln Center). The audience laughed when they then began to play Frank Loesser's "Never Will I Marry," with Rosnes handling most of the treble melody improvisations as Charlap complemented with chords, then delivered his own treatment of the theme.

The keyboard interplay was most strongly evident on Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
's long-heralded "Inner Urge," Rosnes lithe on the treble clef and Charlap supporting with percussive maneuvers. During their exploration of Gershwin's "My Man Is Gone" from Porgy and Bess, Rosnes delivered a captivating rhapsodic segment. Later, their exposition of that composer's "Embraceable You" featured Charlap playing with only his right hand for a while, then contributing a lavish sequence of block chords.

Throughout, there was no inkling of competition, but instead a coalescence that had each building from the other's excursions to complement with chords, add percussive elements or extend a fresh style line.

Charlap, who handled the commentary between songs, introduced the gently swinging "With a Song in My Heart" by saying it was Rodgers' s favorite of his own compositions. Another swinging selection was the lovely "Gone with the Wind," interpreted with sophisticated invention between the two.

When it came to the near-requisite Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
chart, the pair chose the lesser known "Double Rainbow" (Chovendo Na Roseira/Raining on the Rosebush)" that is a Brazilian waltz rather than the usual samba. The pair also performed a second waltz, "Little B's Poem," written by Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
b.1941
vibraphone
in 1962 for his infant son, Barry, a nod to the four years the vibraphonist and Rosnes performed together in the SFJAZZ Collective
SFJAZZ Collective
SFJAZZ Collective
b.2004
band/orchestra
's inaugural quartet, beginning in 2004. "Green Chimneys," a relatively obscure composition by Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, exposed the style of his incomparable musical architecture via four hands elegantly flowing and punctuating the changes.

Then came a fast-tempo bebop chart, Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
's "Relaxin' at Camarillo," to further boost the musical energy. At concert's end, the audience applauded long enough to win an encore, Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
1895 - 1945
arranger
's and Oscar Hammerstein's lovely evergreen, "The Last Time I Saw Paris," delivered in a gently romantic mode. The performance was reminiscent of the Hank Jones
Hank Jones
Hank Jones
1918 - 2010
piano
-Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
1930 - 2001
piano
duets of the 1980s, this couple as great together as that pair, and also as perfect as the legendary film dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

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