Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

May/June 2010: Sonny Rollins

Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap: A Family Affair

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There’s something about the lushness of a piano duo that makes it especially appealing to jazz audiences. At this year’s jazz festival, the sound of two pianos will ring out under the hands of Renee Rosnes and husband Bill Charlap, ambassadors of a new generation of jazz greats.

While Renee grew up in Vancouver and Bill in New York, their musical careers bear a striking resemblance. They both began studying classical piano at the young age of three and later switched to jazz. Charlap forged his reputation as a gifted pianist by joining Gerry Mulligan’s quintet in the late 1980s. He has since played with such legends as Benny Carter and Tony Bennett. After moving to New York in 1986, Rosnes also established herself as one who could play with jazz’s most revered musicians, including Joe Henderson, JJ Johnson, Wayne Shorter, James Moody and Bobby Hutcherson.

Today, both pianists are members of pioneering groups in the world of jazz. Charlap is one of the Blue Note 7, a septet comprised of Blue Note Records artists (including Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson) in honour of the label’s 70th anniversary. The group’s album, Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records, features favourite Blue Note songs dynamically reworked by the band’s members.

Rosnes was a founding member of the San Francisco Jazz Collective. Since 2004, the octet has changed annually, featuring some of the jazz scene’s more innovative musicians, like Miguel Zenón and Stefon Harris. Each of these groups has showcased the performing and arranging talents of these gifted pianists.

Rosnes has a brilliant ability to create melodies which are both sweeping and rhythmic. She is an attentive accompanist, always sensitive to the soloist but strong and committed to the texture she is helping create. Charlap’s impeccable technique, while virtuosic, is always committed to swinging. With all the qualities attributed to the finest of jazz musicians, Rosnes and Charlap are sure to give audiences here a stunning performance!

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