All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
This bouquet of Ellingtonia is superb, but then you'd expect nothing less from this top-level trio. Bill Charlap, increasingly acknowledged as one of the best living pianists in jazz, has a unique touch; when he plays a ballad, as on "Sentimental Mood," he presses the keys so softly that the notes seem breathed, rather than struck. His swinging is crisp, his runs light and flawless, and he has a knack for finding the heart of a song – a talent shared by bassist Jay Leonhart, who conveys maximum meaning with his harmonic choices. Leonhart, also known for his droll songwriting, can convey this wry sensibility with his playing, especially with his sly use of the slide. Drummer Bill Stewart, whose profile isn't as high as the others (yet), does a fine and nuanced job throughout.
Highlights are hard to pick when a recording is this consistent, but I'd choose the aforementioned "Sentimental Mood," the very cool "C-Jam Blues," and the title track, with its swinging solos and trades and impish sense of fun. All told, a sparkling and stylish release.
Track Listing: Star Crossed Lovers, Jump for Joy, In a Sentimental Mood, Love You Madly, Sophisticated Lady, I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So, Prelude to a Kiss, It Don't Mean a Thing, C Jam Blues, I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart, Warm Valley
Personnel: Bill Charlap (piano), Jay Leonhart (bass), Bill Stewart (drums)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.