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Love Is Here to Stay (2005)

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Bill Charlap

It is unusual to hear a son and his mother record together in a jazz setting, but this collection of ballads by Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart is a stunning duo date. Charlap is best known as the leader of a superb piano trio, along with having worked extensively with Gerry Mulligan and Phil Woods, but he may find himself in great demand by other vocalists following this CD. Stewart has recorded only sporadically over the years, though she has worked with her son on a number of club dates. Her instrument has mellowed like a fine wine, with a slight vibrato that adds to the intimacy of each performance. Charlap's interludes between phrases are lush yet never overdone, while he makes great use of space in his accompaniment. While there are quite a few standards present, they also chose songs that have been unjustly neglected. "Here I Am in Love Again," written by the late Moose Charlap (the singer's husband and the pianist's father), is a hopeful song about love in its early stages, which they approach with tenderness. Another Charlap composition, "I Never Go There Anymore," is just the opposite, a sentimental look back at a distant past that can never be recaptured. The standards are just as enticing. Stewart restores the frequently omitted verse to a moving take of "Love Is Here to Stay" and perfectly captures the wistful air of "The Boy Next Door." Singer/pianist Barbara Carroll's engaging liner notes capture the essence of this very romantic CD. ~ Ken Dryden