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Bill Charlap Trio - Street of Dreams (Blue Note)

9 November 2021

There’s a tendency amongst some of those in the hipper circles to think of easygoing piano trio jazz as a cliché, a cheesy enterprise better suited to the cocktail lounge in a Hollywood movie than serious listening. Clearly those folks haven’t been listening to Bill Charlap. Street of Dreams, the pianist’s latest album with his long-running bandmates Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums, no relation), embodies the style not only in format but in soul, presenting an impeccably played set of standards. On cuts like Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke,” Johnny Green and Edward Heyman’s “Out of Nowhere” and Frank Loesser’s “I Know,” melody reigns supreme, Charlap teasing extended improvisations over Peter’s swinging bass and Kenny’s finger-snapping brushwork. The trio’s balladry on Lerner and Lane’s “You’re All the World to Me” and Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” is pure romance – not the cheesy kind of meet cutes and romcom stunts, but the sort built on a foundation of trust and passion. Victor Young and Samuel Lewis’ title track leans into the blues that roots this style of jazz, while Kenny Burrell’s “The Host” lets the musicians push each other into different shapes. Charlap’s graceful playing sounds genetically engineered to perform these songs, with the Washingtons telepathically linked to his aesthetic. Street of Dreams is classicist piano jazz at its most satisfying.