Duo Keyboard Week Concludes: Double Portrait

After a week in which we’ve covered all manner of keyboard duos, ranging from indie rock to avant classical, we end on a jazzy note.

Bill Charlap/Renee Rosnes
Double Portrait
Blue Note CD

Pianists and spouses, Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes make their debut recording as a duo on Double Portrait. Though both are virtuosic jazz musicians in their own right, the emphasis here is on elegant economy.

Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” (from Porgy and Bess) is an excellent case in point. Charlap and Rosnes take it at a slow tempo, giving its sumptuous changes ample room to breath. They also don’t feel bound by the tune, exploring a wide variety of terrain during the solo sections. When they finally return to the top, there is a feeling that the pair have taken you on a fascinating journey, transforming a standby standard into something entirely refreshed.

Lyle Mays’ “Chorinho” displays another aspect of this musical alliance altogether; lithe, dance music with a Latin lilt. Speaking of dancing, the Dietz/Schwartz evergreen “Dancing in the Dark” is given supple swinging treatment with zesty yet tasty solos. The CD’s closer is a clever programming choice: Frank Loesser’s “Never Will I Marry.” More than a mere wink at these duet partners’ marital status, it serves as a suavely bop-inflected and memorable finale.

Double Portrait demonstrates that double the number of participants needn’t equal double the notes or double the volume; but where Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes are concerned, it can equal double the fun!

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