Piano World Home Page
Posted By: pianoloverus Bill Charlap - 01/20/19 10:31 PM
I'm curious about what some others think about his playing, more specifically his playing of ballads. I think he is one of the greatest ballad players along with Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, and Fred Hersch.

Here are a few of his ballad performances I especially like:
Pure Imagination
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjM9F_POXsI
The Shadow Of Your Smile
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJhcaztB9ek&list=RDTJhcaztB9ek
The Nearness of You(starts at 8:02)
Posted By: pwl Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 02:59 AM
I Googled another version of him playing The Nearness of You - like it! (I'm not finding anything at "8:02" - both links are much shorter.)
Posted By: JazzPianoOnline Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 05:22 AM
I saw him play with his trio in NYC last spring and I loved it. His live playing is spectacular much more vibrant than his recordings.

His wife, Renee Rosnes, is a player of equal caliber, among my favorite players and is deserving of much wider recognition.

Check out her playing on Secret Love with Vincent Herring from the early 90s https://youtu.be/AqKUdEk1kRM
Posted By: Nahum Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 08:04 AM
IMO, Bill Charlap is a brilliant and sensitive interpreter of his own arrangements for piano, which are also excellent aesthetic examples for jazz pianists. In this sense, he reminds George Schearing. And, similarly to Shearing, the field of improvisation is some lagging behind. In other words, if Jarrett, improvising, takes the listener by the hand and actively leads him, It is pleasant to listen to Charlap , but he does not carry with him.
Posted By: Nahum Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 08:06 AM
IMO, Bill Charlap is a brilliant and sensitive interpreter of his own arrangements for piano, which are also excellent aesthetic examples for jazz pianists. In this sense, he reminds George Schearing and Fred Hersh. And, similarly to Shearing, the field of improvisation is some lagging behind. In other words, if Jarrett, improvising, takes the listener by the hand and actively leads him, It is pleasant to listen to Charlap , but he does not carry with him.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 03:27 PM
Originally Posted by Nahum
IMO, Bill Charlap is a brilliant and sensitive interpreter of his own arrangements for piano, which are also excellent aesthetic examples for jazz pianists. In this sense, he reminds George Schearing and Fred Hersh. And, similarly to Shearing, the field of improvisation is some lagging behind. In other words, if Jarrett, improvising, takes the listener by the hand and actively leads him, It is pleasant to listen to Charlap , but he does not carry with him.
Do you mean he plays mostly semi-fixed arrangements with less improvisation than pianists like Jarrett?
Posted By: Tim P Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 04:58 PM
Originally Posted by JazzPianoOnline
I saw him play with his trio in NYC last spring and I loved it. His live playing is spectacular much more vibrant than his recordings.

His wife, Renee Rosnes, is a player of equal caliber, among my favorite players and is deserving of much wider recognition.

Check out her playing on Secret Love with Vincent Herring from the early 90s https://youtu.be/AqKUdEk1kRM


I agree that Renee Rosnes is astonishing and deserves far greater recognition. I first heard her in the late 80s with Joe Henderson, which was one of the best concerts I've attended, and I've been a fan ever since.

I haven't seen Bill Charlap live (but hope to), but I do have and really like his albums Notes from New York and Uptown/Downtown. I generally think they have layers. If someone listens to them as background music he or she'd probably think they were well-played, fairly straight ahead jazz recordings. But if s/he focuses and listens there's a great deal of innovation and soulful interpretation. In that way I think they're akin to Bill Evans' 1961 Vanguard recordings.
Posted By: Nahum Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 05:06 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Do you mean he plays mostly semi-fixed arrangements with less improvisation than pianists like Jarrett?

His improvisations are less interesting and attracting than his arrangements and interpretation. Bill Evans was the first truly grand jazz pianist in all respects: as a pianist-instrumentalist , as a jazz musician, as an improviser as an interpreter, as a composer and arranger for piano, as an accompanist. All the great pianists before him were strong in a particular field; Bill Evans was the first to have all of these sides balanced. Hence the most important followers of B. Evans in these senses were H. Hancock and K. Jarrett.
For me, the value of one or another improvisation is determined by a strong individual character and the desire to immediately make a transcription with subsequent analysis; and this applies to any tools. Charlap's improvisations do not cause such a desire.
Posted By: tend to rush Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 06:22 PM
Agree with Tim about Notes from New York - a great record, and very well recorded/engineered. Thinking about getting his "Somewhere" CD - of Bernstein - as I've heard his "Cool" from West Side Story live a couple of times, and loved it. It's strange - his skill set is so much broader than what you hear in his trio. In 2009, he was part of the Blue Note Seven - along with Nicholas Peyton, Ravi Coltrane, Steve Wilson, Peter Bernstein, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash. Played a wide variety of stuff. In 2013, he was in a Jazz at Lincoln Center show called "The Cool School", with a large ensemble doing Gil Evans charts, etc.
Posted By: ˆTomLCˆ Re: Bill Charlap - 01/21/19 10:26 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I'm curious about what some others think about his playing, more specifically his playing of ballads. I think he is one of the greatest ballad players along with Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, and Fred Hersch.

Here are a few of his ballad performances I especially like:
Pure Imagination
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjM9F_POXsI
The Shadow Of Your Smile
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJhcaztB9ek&list=RDTJhcaztB9ek
The Nearness of You(starts at 8:02)


I absolutely LOVED IT! Simply Beautiful arrangements. Are his arrangements available to purchase?
Posted By: Cade Re: Bill Charlap - 01/22/19 12:52 PM
Oh one of my favorite recordings of his is this version of Blue Skies -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrrgvx6gVt0

It's really inventive in the first half and I liked this version better than the record version, but I also got the impression he didn't know how to finish it and flops around at the end just to get through it, finally ending with a weird half-hearted flourish and almost a dejected slouch. But for some reason it still makes me happy to listen to, that first half has some of my favorite musicality in a piano piece, and even that end still makes me smile. He's charismatic even in situations like that. It's on my regular play list.
Posted By: Cade Re: Bill Charlap - 01/24/19 01:33 AM
I don't think I can edit my post to add another, but aside from Blue Skies, the recording that sticks in my mind the most is Lorelei. The A part is greatly inventive, and the B part has an irresistibly catchy and swanky groove. It's more swing than a ballad, maybe, but it's kind of downtempo and showcases what's being complimented here, his arrangement and how good he sounds when he lays back.
Posted By: huaidongxi Re: Bill Charlap - 01/24/19 10:44 AM
Nahum, really appreciate your analyses, observations, and comments. hope to find a teacher like you nearby, some day. the qualities you attribute so aptly to Evans, what a complete and versatile musician he was, could also describe one of his contemporaries. fortunately for us, Tommy Flanagan lived a bit longer than Evans. his arrangements aren't as influential as Evans, but for me his improvisation has a bit more fire and personality. both of them of had brief but immortalized collaborations with Coltrane, from which we have two canonic and contrasting recordings.
Posted By: jjo Re: Bill Charlap - 01/25/19 03:46 AM
I love this recording of Make Me Rainbows. It's that slow, easy, laid back swing that I yearn to duplicate but is SO hard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eavoMyQIwcI

I think the reason Charlap is not considered one of the greats is because, while he's a monster player, there is nothing terribly innovative about his playing. I doubt there are young jazz pianists transcribing his solos like they do, say Brad Mehldau.
Posted By: Joe302 Re: Bill Charlap - 02/01/19 12:22 AM
I wish I could play like Bill Charlap!
I think he's great.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums