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Bill Charlap at Earshot

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Seattle's Jazz Festival is called "Earshot," but the acoustics-- depending on the venue-- can be so bad that you're out of earshot.

Unlike The Netherland's North Sea Jazz Festival, where all venues are in one grand place, there are dozens of various sites throughout greater Seattle. After hearing a concert at the Art Center auditorium you might catch a less formal venue at a bar around the corner.

Bill Charlap missed the luck of the draw when his trio was scheduled for the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. The dull convention room really sponged up the sound. That could have been the reason for the laughing jag that Charlap and Kenny Washington just could not control about three tunes into their first set.

The piano was awkwardly positioned in the depths of stage drapery that swallowed brightness and  articulation. Yet the trio's intuitive wizardry transformed these limitations and brought the audience to breathlessness in a heart pounding, soul-filling performance.

In this worst circumstance, Charlap turned the piano keys from wood into butter; he made bells and chimes. His mental intensity and complex pedal work teased and squeezed out sounds that are-- in any case-- physically and mechanically beyond the reach of a piano.

He channeled sound, willed it, and made it happen. He was virtually in a black hole and he made it sing.

He went from understated to stated-- never overstated. He touched deeply. His gift was a stunning "Shining Hour" that collapsed time, reconfigured space, and left listeners in wondrous and sated suspension.

Lorbiter doesn't expect to hear the likes of that again. It was a marvel.

 

The Bill Charlap Trio.  piano: Bill Charlap, bass: Peter Washington, drums: Kenny Washington.

         

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