REVIEW: Bill Charlap Trio at Ronnie Scott’s

The Bill Charlap Trio at Ronnie Scott’s
L-R: Bill Charlap, Kenny Washington,, Peter Washington
Photo credit Benjamin Amure

Bill Charlap Trio
Ronnie Scott’s, 13th July 2015. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Just watch those Bill Charlap staccatos. There’s the one where he tests whether an electric hob is still hot, and his fingers repeatedly spring up. And then there’s the one where he does a series of raking moves and empties a till of all its small coins. And both of those were in just one chorus of Stardust.

It was astonishing not just to hear, but also to see quite what a range of articulation the pianist can draw on. Again and again last night there were mesmerizing displays of virtuosity. In the Still of the Night was just a cue for Tom and Jerry to be out chasing each other round several blocks, and the final, carefully-plotted West Side Story medley had everything. It is eleven years since they recorded it (Cool, on Youtube, here).

This was a gig that musicians, and particularly drummers had booked in for weeks in advance, for which they were rewarded with two full sets, during which the inventiveness and energy never flagged. As Simon Cooke mentioned, this group would fit naturally into a piano trio festival, because as a demonstration of the capacity to test the trio format to the limits of ensemble and reactiveness there may be nobody else out there.  The two unrelated Washingtons (drummer Kenny is a New Yorker, bassist Peter a Californian) are exceptionally schooled, skilled, responsive musicians. They have played together for years, so everything clicks, every drum-hit, brush-stroke, every plucked note from these two fizzes with energy and intent, and nothing is wasted.

Here are the set lists from a very special night, collected in memory of our good friend Andy Boeckstaens, who would have loved this show, and was with us in spirit. We all miss you Andy, and I hope I got them right, as you always did.


Godchild (George Wallington)
Rocker (Gerry Mulligan)
Sophisticated Lady (Ellington)
In the Still of the Night (Fred Parris)
Roundabout (Vernon Duke)
Geoovin’ High (Gillespie)


I’ll Remember April (De Paul)
Lady is a Tramp (Rodgers and Hart)
Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael)
Tiny’s Tempo (Parker)
Glitter and Be Gay (Bernstein, from Candide)
West Side Story Medley (Bernstein)
Woody n You (Gillespie)

Ronnie Scotts Piano Trio Festival is Aug 10-15

Categories: miscellaneous

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