Recording Date: Dec 22, 1997
This trio outing by pianist Bill Charlap (with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington) is a superior modern mainstream set. Charlap's boppish yet melodic style (which is championed by George Shearing in the liner notes) is pleasing, swinging and just unpredictable enough to hold one's interest. He mostly performs lesser-known standards such as Vernon Duke's "Roundabout," Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing For You Would Be Me" and the Rodgers and Hart classic "Nobody's Heart." An enjoyable outing.
All Music Guide
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Liner notes for ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT by George Shearing
I've been listening with great pleasure for quite a while to Bill Charlap. This CD seems to have everything.... touch, swing, sound, precision and just about everything you need in a well-rounded, well-schooled jazz pianist.
ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT - On november 21, 1934, a new musical opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York entitled "Anything Goes". It starred William Gaxton, Ethel Merman and Victor Moore. The book was by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse and the music by Cole Porter. From the first moment that he puts hands to keyboard in his arrangement of this great song from that show, Bill announces that he is more than prepared to deal with any technical situation which might crop up in his mind. After this fact has been well established, we then enjoy quiet swing with well-organized bridge passages between the solos. The Trio is so well-knit that the contribution seems to be equal from each member of the group.
ROUND ABOUT - Al Hirshfeld is known primarily as the artist whose caricatures of people in the arts are scrutinized by millions looking for the name "Nina" hidden in his drawings. But did you know that in 1945 Al Hirshfeld, along with S.J. Perelman, wrote the book for a show called "Sweet Bye and Bye"? Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash wrote the music and lyrics. Dolores Gray sang Roundabout in that rather short-lived production. However, the song cropped up again in 1951 in a revue entitled "Two's Company starring Bette Davis. Miss Davis did not sing it! In the production, Jerome Robbins, the choreographer for the revue, wanted to use the song as an introduction to a ballet but insisted upon another verse being written. Therefore Roundabout really has two verses and on this track you'll hear them both played with exquisite taste and restraint. A moment of sheer beauty.
PUT ON A HAPPY FACE - "Bye Bye Birdie " opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York on April 14,1960. Even before the show opened in tryouts in Philadelphia, Goddard Lieberson (the venerable president of Columbia Records at that time) said after attending the first audition, "It seemed to me that there was something special in the work of the two young men who were performing and singing". Those two young men happened to be the composer Charles Strouse and the lyricist Lee Adams. This arrangement of a hit from that show, Put on a Happy Face, is literally on fire! It would be difficult to find something that swings more at the same tempo than this does. There's a wonderful bridge passage between the melody and the solos. The last chorus drops down a half-step which makes for a very pleasant surprise. The coda is intriguingly complicated. This is truly a happy face!!
IT'S SO PEACEFUL IN THE COUNTRY - Although Alec Wilder collaborated with such outstanding lyricists as Johnny Mercer, he wrote both words and music for this song.... which was actually a present from Alec to his friend, Mildred Baily. In his own words.... "Mildred Bailey, due to a singing engagement one summer, was unable to get up to her country place. So I, with no thought of more than giving a friend a present, a kind of vicarious weekend out of town, wrote It's So Peaceful In the Country." It turned out that the most popular version of this song was by Mildred Bailey with the Delta Rhythm Boys! But in this version, it is a welcome change, indeed, to hear the verse of this lovely tune! After a beautiful rendition of this verse, the perfect tempo is established for the rest of the arrangement. Actually, "arrangement" is the wrong word. It is three first-class musicians getting together to enjoy settling down at a tempo which, to me, spells h-o-m-e! Bill gives the occasional musical bow to Erroll Garner and everyone seems content to let the tune play itself and the result is pure joy. By the way, Bill, do you mind if I steal that chromatic bass line?
THE BEST THING FOR YOU WOULD BE ME - Irving Berlin will surprise you by writing a number of tunes of less musical importance.... then comes up with this one! I love the beautiful spaces between phrases and the imaginative improvisations on piano, bass and drums. Anyway, let's get right down to it.... no need to wait.... just let it swing itself and it will be great. And it is!
PURE IMAGINATION - Here is a beautiful ballad by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley written for "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" based on the children's book by Roald Dahl and played with impeccable harmonies, a gorgeous touch and great musicianship with inner voicings that won't hurt anybody....
NOBODY'S HEART - "By Jupiter" appeared on Broadway in 1942. The arrangement of this song from that show by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart is like one big smile all the way through. Obviously, Bill had in his mind the second lyric which, in part, states "Words about love are Greek to me, Nice girls won't speak to me, I despise the moon, as a moon it's a prune.... nobody's heart belongs to me today". What a joy!
DANCE ONLY WITH ME / DREAM DANCING - Here is a medley of the song "Dance Only With Me" written by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green and Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing". While it's easy to find the rhythm in "Dance Only With Me", it's another story in "Dream Dancing" where we find a very interesting exercise in which the beat is implied but rarely obvious. Everyone goes off and does his own thing, being extremely confident that he can get back to home plate anytime he wishes. But no one in the trio is in a hurry so to do! Shortly after home plate is reached, it is time to slow down and call it a day.
I'VE JUST SEEN HER - This song is the result of another collaboration between Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.... this time for the 1964 production "All American ". So, the Trio has decided to unite again and leave us without a question of where the first beat in every bar is. They go out on this CD as they came in.... swinging like mad. Thanks to Peter Washington on bass, Kenny Washington on drums and, of course, the incomparable Bill Charlap on piano.
While I'm thanking people, I also want to express my deep appreciation to my wonderful friend Richard Rodney Bennet and to my equally wonderful wife, Ellie, for their most generous assistance. Thanks guys!!!
This CD is definitely one of my most cherished and prized possessions. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to settle down now and listen to it again. Won't you join me?
- George Shearing