“There’s a feeling all the way through this album, and it’s not accidental – it has to do with every gesture and note meaning something. I think maybe the time that we’ve had to reflect has made that diamond even more dense.”
– Bill Charlap
Reflecting on life and music, pianist Bill Charlap has a favorite guiding note: “Think about the people who loved you into being.” It’s heartwarming insight into one of the preeminent jazz improvisers and interpreters on the scene today, because what distinguishes Bill’s play is the depth of feeling he puts into it.
From his first big gig at age 20 with Gerry Mulligan through numerous recordings, performances and collaborations with artists ranging from Benny Carter, Clark Terry and Wynton Marsalis to Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett (with whom he won a Grammy), Bill has become a master of emotive expression and nuance over flash and virtuosity. Big credit goes to his parents – Morris Charlap, who wrote the music for Broadway’s “Peter Pan,” and Grammy-nominated singer Sandy Stewart – for planting and nurturing his deep-seeded love of jazz standards and Songbook favorites. And big props to his longstanding trio-mates, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, for their intuitiveness, subtle touch, and kindred spirited play.
Bill’s new collection of music – a warm mix of classics from the likes of Brubeck, Loesser, Legrand, Ellington and Strayhorn – elevates his touch to high art. Named for the 1930s standard, “Street of Dreams,” the album’s a reflection of the road traveled together by Bill, Peter and Kenny over 25 years as a trio. And it’s also a celebration of New York City emerging from these challenging times. Woven together, the eight songs transform the city into a sort of fantasy of itself; one big heart kept beating in the dreams of musicians and audiences cooped up in pandemic isolation. “I can’t wait to look out into the front row and see a front row,” Bill says, “to feel the humanity of a live audience. I miss people’s faces under the nose.”