Gershwin: The American Soul

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LABELS: Blue Note
ALBUM TITLE: The American Soul
WORKS: The American Soul
PERFORMER: Bill Charlap (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums); Phil Woods, Frank Wess (saxophone), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Slide Hampton (trombone)
CATALOGUE NO: 72438 60669 2 3V
Pianist Bill Charlap is steeped in the sound of Gershwin’s American Songbook. His mother, Sandy Stewart, is a Grammy-nominated singer and his father was a professional songwriter. He himself came to notice through his understated approach to jazz standard material, usually in a trio format. But for these choice cuts of classic and rare Gershwin, Charlap has added four horn players – and the result is both sublime and subliminal. His arranging for ‘A Foggy Day’, for example, gives it a misty feeling, the horn parts (played pianissimo) emerging from the stillness. The set is a sea of tranquillity, Charlap holding the melody close, before passing it on to the other guys who treat it just as tenderly. Veterans Wess, Woods and Hampton distil the romantic essence of the songs simply and elegantly. Charlap, modest yet masterful, shepherds lovely tunes like ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’ towards their lingering conclusion. Priceless. Gary Booth