Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 3:03 pm
It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."
In Charlap's recent visit to the Jazz24 studios at KPLU in Seattle, the pianist takes two songs from that fabled songbook and uses them to illustrate how a jazz musician can honor tradition and still get creative. As you listen, try to identify all of the other songs that Charlap quotes as he finds his way to the heart of the tune he's playing. Underlying his technical brilliance and emotional focus is a musical wit that's second to none.