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Jazz Appreciation Month: Pianist Bill Charlap

Pianist Bill Charlap
Carol Friedman
courtesy of the artist
Pianist Bill Charlap

When you hear Bill Charlap on piano, you have the sense of someone lost – so lost in the music we may never be able to exist on that mountain with him. Paige Hansen has more on his exquisite playing in our series for Jazz Appreciation Month. 

The ballad is where to find pianist Bill Charlap – and if you’re lucky, you’ll exist there for a while with him.  Beautifully constructed phrasing and a constant attendance to rhythm.

Sweet and becoming in an understated fashion.  

And Charlap allows the rhythm to take over – giving the bass its deserved loyalty. Listen to “Make Me Rainbows” – he’s is right on the 1 – just the bassist.

But his piano lines deviate ever so slightly. 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.

Charlap began playing at age 3. And having musicians as parents surely influenced his young life. The songs in the Great American Songbook -- with the great composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin -- is what played in his house. Charlap's Dad was composer Moose Charlap, and his mother Sandy Stewart was a regular on Perry Como’s television series. 

With two Grammy nominations, it’s clear Charlap will continue to dazzle us with hypnotic servings of musical magic.

Paige Hansen has been heard on radio station 88.5 KNKX-FM for over 20 years where she’s hosted news & jazz. You can currently hear her hosting jazz weekdays & Sundays. She is also an active musician, writer and singer.