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Bill Charlap Celebrates the Anniversary of his Trio and the Return of Live Music at 92Y

Bill Charlap on The Pulse

When Bill Charlap first heard and fell in love with jazz, drummer Eddie Locke was the culprit. Locke worked with Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins. Bill, a mere fourth grader, heard Eddie play at school with pianist Johnny Morris playing Scott Joplin's "Solace". At that moment that he was hooked. Although his mom is the GRAMMY award winning vocalist Sandy Stewart and dad was Broadway composer Moose Charlap (most notably the composer of Peter Pan), it was this particular experience hearing Locke play that would define the trajectory of his life. He would hear him again with Sir Roland Hanna in the seventh grade at another school assembly, this time playing "On Green Dolphin Street". He went on to attend one of New York's prestigious performing arts high school. There, he would sometimes skip his last period class to go play Fats Waller's piano at the Songwriters Hall of Fame inside the GM building. It must have been fate because it was there where he met composer and songwriter Walter Bishop, Sr. who encouraged his natural talent, giving him pointers along the way.

Charlap would go on to perform and record with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Phil Woods, Scott Hamilton, Benny Carter, and even won a GRAMMY with Tony Bennett. He formed his trio formed in 1997 with Peter Washington on Bass and Kenny Washington on Drums. Since then they've travelled the world over and are regarded as one of the best trios in jazz today. When he's not on stage he's paying it forward to the next generation of musicians, just as the greats poured into him, as Director of Jazz Studies at William Patterson University.

On this episode of The Pulse, Bill Charlap talks about his musical upbringing, the anniversary of his trio, and what's on the horizon.

Bill Charlap on The Pulse

Charlap is in his 17th year as Artistic Director of New York City’s Jazz in July Festival at 92Y-- a baton passed on to him by his distant cousin, pianist Dick Hyman. After a long pandemic, live music is back in a big way at 92Y. On July 20th, Kurt Elling joins Charlap along with saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist David Wong, and drummer Carl Allen. On July 27th, the trio celebrates their anniversary with a special, never-before collaboration with NEA Jazz Master and five-time GRAMMY award winning vocalist Dianne Reeves.

The Bill Charlap Trio's forthcoming album Street of Dreams (Blue Note) is set to release in November.

Bill Charlap Trio
PHILIPPE LEVY-STAB