131

Bill Charlap Trio: Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein

Joshua Weiner By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Charlap Trio: Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein The son of a Broadway composer, Bill Charlap seems to have the standard jazz repertoire in his blood. His is a resolutely mainstream approach, in the vein if not always the style of Oscar Peterson, and he sounds completely at home with the music on his latest album, Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein.

Aided by the empathetic playing of Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums, Charlap takes a fresh look at 12 of Bernstein's best-known tunes, derived mainly from West Side Story, On The Town, and Wonderful Town. "Cool," from the former musical, begins the record with a bang, shifting the already-jazzy rhythm around and building in intensity with each section. Charlap punctuates his solo with bluesy trills and rhythmic cadences that keep the melody line always within the ear's reach. "It's Love" swings brightly in a medium tempo and features a well-structured bass solo by Washington.

Charlap plays beautifully on several ballads. "Lonely Town" contains some lovely harmonic invention, as does a solo reading of "Somewhere." The pianist manages to convey the poignancy of the song's lyrics in his playing without resorting to sentimentality or emotional bombast. But he's not just a softy: A brief and frenzied run-through of "Jump" features some amazingly fast and long-limbed runs, and "America" is performed with a powerful rhythmic pulse and some spiky, carnivalesque figures.

At times, however, Charlap's approach can lead to music that is pretty but rather uninvolving. On "Some Other Time," for example, he plays the melody beautifully and lovingly, but over seven minutes never really develops it in a solo. This may have been meant in reverence (it is a gorgeous melody), but the effect on the listener is soporific. Long stretches of other tunes glide by smoothly and efficiently, but without much to grab the ear or set the foot a-tapping. Kenny Washington's drumming can be rather stiff; perhaps another player might push Charlap out of his restraint at times.

These criticisms aside, Somewhere conveys the beauty and emotional power of Bernstein's music. Fans of the composer's work will certainly welcome Charlap's thoughtful interpretations.


Track Listing: Cool, Lucky to be Me, It's Love, Lonely Town, Jump, Some Other Time, Glitter and be Gay, A Quiet Girl, Big Stuff, America, Ohio, Somewhere

Personnel: Bill Charlap, piano; Peter Washington, bass; Kenny Washington, drums

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "OUTgoing" CD/LP/Track Review OUTgoing
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Elegy" CD/LP/Track Review Elegy
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Alive Out There" CD/LP/Track Review Alive Out There
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 2, 2016
Read "Second Impression" CD/LP/Track Review Second Impression
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Wee +3" CD/LP/Track Review Wee +3
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Things Are Looking Up" CD/LP/Track Review Things Are Looking Up
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!