Bill Charlap

The Gerry Mulligan Songbook

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This excellent CD features pianists Bill Charlap and Ted Rosenthal, who both played stints with Gerry Mulligan; bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ron Vincent (who conceived this session) are also Mulligan alumni. What is unusual about this Mulligan tribute is that it covers his compositions without reeds of any kind. Mulligan was an excellent pianist (he played some piano with his groups in the 1950s and '60s and stuck to piano exclusively during his guest appearance on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz); the give and take between Rosenthal and Charlap captures the essence of their former leader's works. The two pianists play together without their rhythm section on the jaunty "Walkin' Shoes" and the lesser-known but dramatic ballad "Curtains." Ron Vincent's crisp brushwork is added to the pianos during "Bark for Barksdale." Rosenthal's feature with the trio is the melancholy "Lonesome Boulevard," while "Noblesse," a relatively obscure ballad, is Charlap's trio feature. The remaining tracks utilize the full quartet; "Line for Lyons" and "Wood On Wood" are among the choice cuts. Perhaps the quartet will choose to explore "Good Neighbor Thelonious" and "K-4 Pacific" on a follow-up session. A chat by the musicians, titled "Jazzspeak," concludes the CD.