Bill Charlap Meets Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Bill Charlap are a study in contrasts: she is as outgoing as he is understated. Yet they have a lot in common — a love of Tin Pan Alley / The American Songbook — and that was the ground they met on for the DJF. Charlap is a master accompanist who grew up playing for his mother, a veteran New York nightclub singer, so it was a delight to see his interactions with Bridgewater, a pro from a younger generation who cut her teeth facing Paris jazz fans who no doubt delighted in her soulful renditions.

Bridgewater was perched on a high stool just next to Charlap’s keyboard as their conversation unfolded. At one point she ventured that “I don’t think that people know that we are improvising” and he retorted “I think we are perfect dancing partners” which is an apt description of the two as they danced through numbers like “Love For Sale,” where they found all the blues possibilities in the Cole Porter standard, and “Honeysuckle Rose,” which brought the wit and charm of earlier singers Adelaide Hall and Josephine Baker into the 22nd century, or “Here’s That Rainy Day,” when they found extra space between the notes, illustrating the poignant lyric. “Caravan” began with a hypnotic vocalese intro followed by some bouncing piano punctuations from Charlap’s left hand, and cascades of notes with his right hand. “In The Still Of the Night” was mysterious, sensual and spine-tingling.

Overall, it was a delightful performance by two artists at the top of their game.