Bill Charlap: Written In The Stars
Over the course of Charlap’s three Criss Cross dates one could sense the development of a truly exceptional artist and to say that these records, especially the inspirational Distant Star, are among the state-of-the-art when it comes to piano trio jazz is simply indulging in understatement. His first major label set, Written In the Stars, doesn’t quite scale the heights of Charlap’s Criss Cross sides but it comes pretty darn close. Musically there’s much to get excited about. Tin Pan Alley standards make up the program as usual, but it’s the interpretations that put things over the top. For example, “Blue Skies” is voiced by the bass and piano, its melody displaced and reshaped in angular phrases. “Where Or When” becomes a very attractive waltz and “One For My Baby” takes on a reflective calm like no other previous version ever has.
Don’t expect moments of technical flash from Charlap. He has nothing to prove and he’s more interested in milking everything he can from the melody and timbre of the moment. Of course, he can hard bop as intensely as the rest of them (a point he has proven via his sideman appearances on Criss Cross), but chooses to be more thoughtful in his own trio work. If there were one bone to pick with this album it would have to be concerning the engineering. The bass is simply too high up in the mix and the drums come across as sterile, with no room ambiance or reverberation to add to the overall sound (just listen to Kenny Washington on just about anything else he’s ever recorded to get a truer picture of his sound). It’s a small point of contention, however, with what is overall a very winning release.
Track Listing: In The Still Of The Night, Dream, The Man That Got Away, Blue Skies, Where Have You Been?, Where Or When, On a Slowboat To China, One For My Baby, I'll Never Go There Anymore, Lorelei, It Was Written In The Stars
Personnel: Bill Charlap (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums)
Record Label: Blue Note Records