Bill Charlap Trio: Notes From New York

Bill Charlap Trio

Regular readers of my blog won’t be surprised by the fact that I love the Jazz piano trio.

So I was actually a bit surprised when I read quite a lot about Bill Charlap’s Trio on several discussion fora, and had never heard of the guy. And this came from people who generally have a good taste (or to be more neutral, a taste similar to mine…).

So when I recently saw on my streaming service the release of his latest album, released on Impulse (the legendary label that has seen a great revival in the last decade), I was obviously very interested.

Notes From New York (Impulse 2016)

Bill Charlap Trio: Notes From New York 24 96 Impulse 2016

And now I will unfortunately disappoint the several Bill Charlap fans I know: This is really not my cup of tea.

Let me try to explain why. An old friend of mine, Jazz lover as well, often basically distinguishes Jazz groups by the quality of their drummer (and I’m not even talking technical quality). Basically, if the drummer doesn’t work for him, he doesn’t care about the rest of the music (when you read this, I’m paraphrasing).

So, I’m not as black and white, as I’m coming from the piano, this is usually the most important instrument for me a in a combo. And that said, Charlap is really excellent.

However (and maybe it is only on this particular album, need to check out others), but basically here I have exactly the same problem, I don’t like what Kenny Washington does on drums. To quote Duke Ellington again, It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Well, saying that Washington doesn’t swing isn’t fair, but he’s nevertheless the main reason why this album leaves me completely cold.

On very slow ballads, like Too Late Now, the music is much more focused on the piano and bass, and here I start appreciating the qualities of these artists (also Peter Washington on bass). But unfortunately, the rest just doesn’t do it for me.

I nevertheless strongly recommend you check this album out, there is nothing wrong with it, and these are without doubt excellent musicians, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

My (very personal) rating: 3 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prostudiomasters)