Saturday, May 21, 2011

DULL DUET

Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap
At Detroit's Orchestra Hall Friday evening, husband and wife duo Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes closed the 2010-2011 Paradise Jazz Series in lackluster fashion. At 8:00am on the button, the piano players walked on the stage hand in hand sporting pallbearer black suits. They bowed to the audience. Then Charlap and Rosnes started the concert with Never Will I Marry  followed by Antonio Carlos Jobim's Double Rainbow and Joe Henderson's Inner Urge, songs from Charlap and Rosnes' 2010 album Double Portrait..

The entire evening, Charlap and Rosnes sounded like one piano player instead of two with different styles. The duo piano thing is tough to pull off. Many respected jazz piano players have tried. Eric Reed played with Cyrus Chestnut. Mulgrew Miller played with Kenny Barron. And Hank Jones played with Oliver Jones. Those duets were uninteresting.

Charlap and Rosnes are excellent jazz piano players. No jazz fan or jazz writer worth his or her salt would disagree. Charlap is reserved, but he can swing if a situation demand him to. Rosnes is a natural swinger at heart. Rosnes can swing faster and harder than any of her peers. But together Charlap and Rosnes are shockingly dull.

In 2007, Charlap and Rosnes wed at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, forming a top-flight jazz duo. Charlap and Rosnes brought stellar credentials to their marriage. Charlap has two praiseworthy jazz trio dates to brag about S. Wonderful and The Bill Charlap Trio Live at the Village Vanguard

Rosnes played with the late saxophone player Joe Henderson. Rosnes also played with the San Francisco Jazz Collective.Three years after Charlap and Rosnes wed, Blue Note Records put out the couple’s first duo piano date Double Portrait. Jazz album reviewers spoke highly of it.

The set Friday wasn’t completely dull. Charlap and Rosnes gave the audience a jolt on Charlie Parker’s Confirmation. And the blues number Charlap and Rosnes played near the end of the set was pleasing. Charlap wow the audience, playing the number with one hand. On the whole, the hour-long set was lackluster. Charlap and Rosnes failed to do what both are capable of, swinging. But was swinging  their intent?
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