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Brian Lynch: Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap

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Although the titles implies that this is the first meeting for the pianist and trumpet/flugelhornist, they did work together in the Phil Woods Quintet during the 1990s. The album is really a showcase for the two on either ballads or hard driving bebop compositions. For the sake of argument, let's say that the sixty-two minutes are about equally divided on the presentation.

The up-tempo songs like Rodgers & Hart's "My Heart Stood Still," Lynch's originals, "On the Dot" and "Blues for Gilad," and Charlie Parker's "Cheryl" are played with the fire one would associate with the Phil Woods group in full cry. I especially liked their version of the Bird anthem in which Lynch starts off with a muted trumpet and Charlap following with exciting solo. However, I was even more taken with the more lyrical tracks beginning with "On Green Dolphin Street," an eight minute version with Lynch again on muted horn a la Miles Davis circa 1958, when this movie theme from Bronsilaw Kaper was placed in the hallowed halls of a jazz standard category.

The Kim Gannon 1940s tune "Autumn Nocturne" then gets a beautifully burnished presentation from Lynch's flugelhorn and Charlap's lyrical piano. Likewise, Lynch's "Before the First Cup" and Chico Buarque's "Atras da Porta" feature Brian Lynch playing pretty on flugelhorn and with Bill Charlap offering sensitive support and solos. The latter was a song frequently performed by Brazilian vocalist Elis Regina. Lynch shifts back to trumpet for the final ballad, Arlen & Mercer's "Come Rain or Come Shine" in which a penetrating melody statement and solo are offered.

Both of the artists have been on the recording scene for some time now but have come into the general public's awareness only recently. Lynch resettled in New York in the early 1980s and by mid decade was working with Frank Wess and Eddie Palmieri. From 1988 to 1990, he held the final trumpet chair for the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers Group. In addition to having several sessions on the Criss Cross and Ken labels, Lynch has been a member of the Phil Woods Quintet since 1992.

Pianist Bill Charlap has likewise been playing for a long time including stints with Gerry Mulligan and Woods. When I saw him about five years ago, he was the musical director and pianist for singer Ann Hampton Calloway. Coming from a musical family (his father, Moose Charlap, was a famous Broadway tunesmith and his mother, Sandy Stewart, put "My Coloring Book" on the map in the early 1960s before Streisand), Charlap seems to have inherited much of the sensitivity and lyricism that Fred Hersch has displayed during the past decade. All this shows in his interpretations of the Great American Songbook. The two other band members, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Joe Farnsworth, contribute mightily to the group effort and cohesion.


Track Listing: On Green Dolphin Street, Autumn Nocturne, My Heart Stood Still, Cheryl, Before the First Cup, Atras da Porta, On the Dot, Come Rain or Come Shine, Blues for Gilad.

Personnel: Brian Lynch, trumpet,flugelhorn; Bill Charlap,piano; Dwayne Burno,bass; Joe Farnsworth,drums.

Title: Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sharp Nine Records

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