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His company brings out the best in Bill Charlap


Bill Charlap, "Uptown" (Impulse)

At its worst, this record is somewhere midway between Hank Jones and cocktail piano. At its best, it is excellent jazz piano in a sensitive post-Bill Evans style that is, on occasion, not afraid to swing hard and gobble up Petersonesque keys.

If Charlap can indeed sometimes fall into a trap of playing just a wee bit too prettily, it's no doubt, because nothing is ever likely to overrule his DNA. He's, famously, the son of composer Moose Charlap (the score of "Peter Pan" including the sublimely swinging "Never Neverland") and singer Sandy Stewart which explains why sheer prettiness goes a very long way with him. He's still a first-rate lyrical jazz pianist when he wants to be. His company in his trio -- Peter and Kenny Washington (unrelated) -- is ideal in bringing out his best.

3 1/2 stars (out of four)

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