Bill Charlap Trio coming to Ravenscroft

Bill Charlap is one of the best jazz pianists in the world

Kenny Washington is one of the best drummers in the world.  

Peter Washington is one of the best bassists in the world. 

Bill Charlap Trio comes together for one incredible evening in Ravenscroft Hall.

That these individuals with uncommon talent have performed together for 25 years is a testament to their shared commitment to both honoring jazz tradition and elevating the art form. 

“It’s like a good marriage,” Charlap said. “You learn to listen. You grow separately and you grow together. You keep reassessing what it is that you have. You keep seeing the challenge of what you have. It keeps reinventing itself. That’s how it is. It doesn’t get stale because it exponentially has grown separately and together with each other.”

“The electricity of communication is something that is palpable,” Charlap said.  It’s almost like seeing an empty canvas and watching a painter paint the canvas before your very eyes. But we have three painters who are painting the canvas together and working together.”

The partnership of rare talent is remarkable, even to Charlap, who put the trio together in 1997 and sees no end in sight.

“Not one bit of it has ever felt in the least bit phoned in or stale,” Charlap said. “It stays completely vital. And, so, you are really seeing a very burnished chamber ensemble, and there’s nothing stuffy about it. It’s intense what goes on together.”

The Grammy-winning trio performs at Ravenscroft on Feb. 18th.   Music fans will hear and see the trio’s unpretentious elegance work through a setlist of great American popular songs and jazz composers. It should be mesmerizing. 

Charlap, whose schedule this year is busy with trio performances, recording sessions for the Blue Note label, and duo performances with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, never lacks for opportunities to showcase his talents. The decision to include a performance at Ravenscroft Hall was based on high expectations about the experience Woody Wilson, executive producer of the Ravenscroft Jazz Series, would create. 

“Woody Wilson has been my friend for many years,” Charlap said. “He has always put on a beautiful series with great integrity, great musicians and beautiful spaces with excellent instruments and informed audiences. All those reasons combined make me feel very trusting when I get a call from Woody.”

Director of Ravenscroft, David Bauer adds, “the Bill Charlap Trio performance in Ravenscroft Hall will be an exceptional show.  When you combine Charlap’s award-winning talent with his sidemen, and the exquisite acoustics of the venue, you achieve a concert experience that is unmatched.  We can’t wait for our patrons to enjoy this world-class performance on Feb 18th.”

Charlap will play a Ravenscroft piano during the trio’s performance. 

“(Bob) Ravenscroft is a great artisan of the instrument and has made a beautiful piano,” Charlap said. “(He) put attention to detail about everything about the instrument, from the way the action works, the actual keyboard itself, to the sound that it has all the way around. There’s thought given to every single string and every screw and every key and every bit of wood there. It’s a real artisan piano.”

When Charlap is not performing or recording, he is, among other things, the artistic director of the Jazz in July Festival in New York City and director of the jazz studies program at William Paterson University, Wayne, N.J.

“Scholarship, of course, allows you to pass on some of the knowledge,” Charlap said. “(Jazz) is an oral tradition – a spoken tradition as well as a written tradition. But it’s more of a tradition that’s passed down through direct communication.”

“I’m also learning from my students,” he said. “It’s no hyperbole to say that I learn all the time from my students. I’m always continuing to grow by being exposed to the innovations that they’re doing.”

Bill Charlap Trio performs Saturday, February 18th at 7:30 p.m.

Ravenscroft Hall

8445 E. Hartford Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85255