This week, jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson joins Bill McGlaughlin to host a special double bill spotlighting two remarkable artists from the worlds of jazz and popular song. American pianist Bill Charlap and Brazilian-born singer and composer Luciana Souza each inherited a rich, sophisticated musical worldview from parents who were brilliant performers and composers. Growing up, both enjoyed an extended family circle of famous musicians, absorbing the skill and craft of performing from the best. Bill Charlap's father, composer and songwriter Moose Charlap, wrote the score to the Broadway musical "Peter Pan," and his mother Sandy Stewart was a well-known jazz singer. Luciana Souza's mother and father were both songwriters; her godfather was the extraordinary composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal.
Here at the Library, Souza and Charlap collaborated with a wonderful lineup of master performers that evoke their musical lineages. You'll have the rare chance of hearing a mother-and-son duo-one much admired for elegant performances of the Great American Songbook repertoire: Sandy Stewart performing Irving Berlin's "I've Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night," with Charlap at the piano. This song is among one of the hundreds of the composer's compositions held in the Library's Irving Berlin Collection, some 750,000 individual items strong.
Bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington join Charlap in George Gershwin's "'S Wonderful!," documented in the comprehensive George and Ira Gershwin Collection here, a small and eminently valuable part of what is probably the strongest collection of popular music of any library in the world. Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, Victor Herbert, and Leonard Bernstein-these are a very few of the major American musical theater composers whose collections are held at the Library of Congress. Visit the Library's Performing Arts Encyclopedia for information about special collections in this area.
Luciana Souza invited the great Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo to join her for this concert, along with Venezuelan-born pianist Edward Simon, bassist Massimo Biolcati, and drummer Clarence Penn. Their set includes the classic, "Desafinado," music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, folk-influenced popular songs from Northern Brazil and Souza's own setting of a text by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, from her "Neruda Songs."
Explore What's Behind the Music
Bill Charlap Trio: Pianist Bill Charlap grew up in a household where jazz met popular song every day. His father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer; his mother, Sandy Stewart, sang with Benny Goodman.
Sandy Stewart: Vocalist Sandy Stewart is admired for a terrific sense of style, honed in appearances with Perry Como and the Benny Goodman band.
Luciana Souza Quartet: The vibrant singer, composer and three-time Grammy nominee Luciana Souza was raised in São Paulo, Brazil, growing up in a family of Bossa Nova composers.
Bill Charlap Trio
For more than a decade, pianist/bandleader Bill Charlap has been forging a solo career characterized by hard-swinging brio, eloquence and a rigor-meets-romance musical sensibility. With his fine long-term working trio of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington-a brilliant rhythm team with two of the most informed musicians on their instruments-he has released five superb albums. They celebrate the American Songbook tradition, including songs of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin, that has afforded Charlap an increased visibility as one of jazz’s foremost pianists.
In 2005, for the weeklong celebration of the Village Vanguard’s 70th anniversary, Bill Charlap was one of a handful of wonderful musicians headlining the 123-seat nightspot. His excellent trio is admired for great performances of jazz classics, not only from the golden age of jazz, but also later compositions by composers like saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and guitarist Jim Hall. "We love the music-the past, the present, the future,” says Charlap.
Unlike most artists who can trace their first explorations on a musical instrument to a certain age, the New York-born and bred Charlap says he can’t recall a time when he wasn’t playing a piano. The son of two accomplished artists, he grew up immersed in a household of song. “My relationship with music occurred naturally,” says Charlap, whose father, Broadway composer and songwriter Moose Charlap, and mother, cabaret/pop singer Sandy Stewart, entertained popular songwriters and musicians from the show world at their Upper East Side home. His father, who passed away when his son was 7, wrote the score to "Peter Pan" (starring Mary Martin), as well as such musical theater performances as "The Conquering Hero," "Whoop-up," "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and "Kelly." Charlap's mother, the stunning singer Sandy Stewart, appears with him in a few sold-out dates each season.
Charlap says that his mother’s singing has influenced him: “Her phrasing influences the way I play melody. In many ways I approach the song from a singer’s perspective; music and lyrics are of equal importance.”
“My parents were both listeners to all the classic jazz singers and Broadway show music,” says Charlap. “My father was always on some deadline for composing songs and my mother often did the demo work for him. All sorts of musicians and songwriters and lyricists visited my house. There was always something going on.”
Charlap attended New York’s High School for the Performing Arts, studying privately with jazz pianist Jack Reilly. Charlap also studied informally with the esteemed jazz pianist Dick Hyman, a distant cousin on his father’s side. “He was an important influence,” Charlap says. “I just hung around with him when he was working on a film score, doing a record date, performing a solo recital, rehearsing with vocalists or playing for choreographer Twyla Tharp. It wasn’t a formal education. I just sat quietly and watched him do everything-and he did many things. He’s such a master musician. We even sat down at two pianos and played together. He just shared what he was thinking when he played.”
After attending SUNY-Purchase for two years, Charlap gave up formal studies in lieu of pursuing a career in jazz. A meeting with the pianist Bill Mays led to entree in to Gerry Mulligan's band, and a launch into the world jazz circuit. Later he was the musical director of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, A Celebration of Johnny Mercer".
Charlap cites as influences Phil Woods, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Jim Hall, Frank Wess, Wynton Marsalis, and Tony Bennett. Bill Charlap is Artistic Director of the long-running Jazz In July series at the 92nd St. Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts in New York City.
Vocalist Sandy Stewart sang with Benny Goodman, co-starred on TV’s "Perry Como Show" and scored a Grammy nomination for her hit single, “My Coloring Book” by the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb.
Luciana Souza Quartet
A widely respected composer and singer, Luciana Souza defies categories, bringing her outstanding musicianship and unique sound to an impressive range of projects. Performing works by Osvaldo Golijov and Manuel de Falla, appearing with the big bands of Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler, or leading her own brilliant small jazz ensembles, Souza brings something to the music that has been called "transcendental."
Souza spent four years on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she had received a bachelor's degree in jazz composition; she also holds a master's degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. Voted the Top Rising Female Vocalist in the Downbeat Critics' Poll in 2004, 2005, and 2006, she has appeared and recorded with many renowned jazz musicians and composers of new music, including Danilo Perez, Hermeto Pascoal, Maria Schneider, Kenny Werner, and John Patitucci. Souza has been a constant presence in Osvaldo Golijov's music since 1996, serving as muse for his Passion according to St. Mark, and his cantata, Oceana.
She has performed with the Bach Akademie in Stuttgart, Germany, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and both the Los Angeles and Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestras. She has sung Manuel de Falla's "El Amor Brujo" with the Atlanta Symphony, under Robert Spano, and with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Roberto Minczuk.
As a leader, Souza has recorded five critically acclaimed albums - "An Answer to Your Silence" (NYC Records, 1999), "The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs" and the critically acclaimed "Brazilian Duos" with guitarist Romero Lubambo. The latter two were included in the New York Times Critics' Choice Top 10 Jazz releases for 2000 and 2001, respectively. "Neruda" features her own compositions-musical settings of 10 of Pablo Neruda's poems.
Souza's most recent release, "The New Bossa Nova," is an impressive collection reflecting her passion for poetry and great songwriting, drawing together songs by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Brian Wilson and Antonio Carlos Jobim. She can be heard in some of the most important recording in both the jazz and classical arenas this year, including Herbie Hancock's "River," Maria Schneider's "Cerulean Skies," and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's "LAGQ Brazil."
Currently she is an artist in residence at the Bay area's prestigious San Francisco Performances. Fall 2007 projects include an unusual collaboration with pianist Gil Goldstein and the Britten Sinfonia, performing the music of Miles Davis and Gil Evans in London.