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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Jazz pianist Bill Charlap will perform in the Janet Weis Cabaret Jazz series on Wednesday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building at Bucknell University.
Performing with Charlap will be vocalist Sandy Stewart. The free concert is the first event in the 2010-11 season of the ongoing Janet Weis Cabaret Jazz Series, which is made possible by funding from the Weis family.
"Bill Charlap is considered by many to be one of the best solo jazz pianists performing today," said Bill Boswell, executive director of Bucknell's Weis Center for the Performing Arts and the curator of this series. "He performs frequently in the best New York venues. I last heard him along with Sandy Stewart in the Oak Room of the famed Algonquin Hotel."
Since 1998, Charlap has worked mostly in a trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. A serious student of classical and jazz piano since attending New York's High School of Performing Arts, Charlap was studying at SUNY/Purchase College before a recommendation from pianist Bill Mays helped him land a job working with baritone sax star and "cool jazz" pioneer Gerry Mulligan. His prowess as an accompanist earned him gigs with Tony Bennett and Sheila Jordan as well, and in 1995 he joined the Phil Woods Quintet, an association that continues today.
A Philadelphia native and, not incidentally, mother of Bill Charlap, Sandy Stewart made her professional debut as a singer when she was 10. She had a hit with the Grammy-nominated "My Coloring Book" in 1962. She continued in TV for a while, working with legends like Ernie Kovacs, Ed Sullivan and Perry Como before touring as a vocalist with Benny Goodman and retiring at the age of 26 to be home with her two children and two step-children. When her husband, Moose Charlap, died in 1974, she supported the family by singing on demo sessions and for advertisement jingles. At the urging of her son Bill, Stewart returned to the spotlight 15 years ago.
For more information or to hear music samples, visit http://www.tedkurland.com/artists/bill-charlap-and-sandy-stewart.
The next performance in the Janet Weis Cabaret Jazz series will be Sept. 29 with The John Pizzarelli Quartet. The fall series ends Oct. 27 with pianist Dick Hyman and clarinetist Ken Peplowski.
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