Bill Charlap Trio, Uptown Downtown (Impulse)
Pianist Charlap’s trio dazzles the listener from beginning to end of this album. He, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington do not bowl us over with flurries of technique, speed and high volume. They do it with musicianship, subtlety and the cohesiveness that has intensified during their two decades as one of the most compelling of all jazz piano trios. A few of the large and small delights:
•The musicians’ uncanny togetherness on Gigi Gryce’s tricky “Satellite.”
•The suggestion of a taxi horn at the conclusion of a compelling version of Stephen Sondheim’s title tune.
•The softness of Charlap’s keyboard touch underlaid by Peter W’s counterpoised bass line and Kenny W’s nearly subliminal brushes in “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.”
•Charlap’s perfect Ellington right-hand flurries that open “Sophisticated Lady.”
•The trio sliding into the melody of “There’s A Small Hotel.”
This is one of the year’s finest albums.