In the 1950s and early 60s, Sandy Stewart was a well-known vocalist, booking television gigs with Merv Griffin, Dick Van Dyke, regularly appearing on The Perry Como Show, and touring with Benny Goodman. She is best known for her hit, Grammy-nominated recording "My Coloring Book," which lost to Ella Fitzgerald's "Mack the Knife." Despite the fame, Stewart married Broadway composer Moose Charlap (Peter Pan) and set stardom aside to be a homemaker and raise their family. Following Charlap's premature death in 1974, Stewart eased her way back into the mainstream to provide for her family.
Two-time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap, a virtuosic jazz pianist, is Moose Charlap and Stewart's son. He has recorded with notable artists including such jazz masters as Phil Woods and Wynton Marsalis. He also has spent time in the studio with acclaimed singers such as Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand. Charlap is the artistic director of New York City's Jazz in July Festival at the 92nd Street Y, and has produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the JVC Jazz Festival, and the Hollywood Bowl.
In 2005, the mother/son duo paired together to release the album Love Is Here To Stay. Late in 2012, the duo garnered critical raves for their cabaret concert Something To Remember at Feinstein's at Lowes Regency in New York City. Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal stated that the duo "is, eternally, like a master class in interpretation. The team is so subtle, so understated, so specific in their approach." This same intensity and musicianship is captured on their most recent album, also titled Something To Remember.
The record is filled to overflowing with plaintively introspective and profound renditions of jazz standards like Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Where or When," which opens the disc. From the first note she produces, Stewart's mature and darkly toned voice begins to expressively paint portraits of loves lost, hearts broken, and the bittersweet recollections that lead us to relive such experiences. Happier tunes, such as George Gershwin, B.G. DeSylva, and Ballard MacDonald's "Somebody Loves Me" and a delicate rendition of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington's "When You Wish Upon A Star," are presented with slowed tempos that invite listeners to contemplate the lyrics. These songs maintain their charming sweetness while Stewart's rich voice coyly winks at the audience with the knowledge that her 75 years of life brings to the tunes. One of the album's greatest tracks is the rare gem "I Was Telling Him About You," written by Moose Charlap and Don George. It is a sumptuous, softly swinging jazz ballad that is delivered with an understated but palpable passion.
On the piano, Bill Charlap, gracefully ambles through the wistfully nostalgic, and at times melancholic, arrangements of the songs. He graciously heeds the tempo and timbre cues of his mother, reactively playing the piano with subtle grandeur and flourish to expertly service her charisma and presentation. His skilled work allows Stewart to be the star of the album all while allowing her to channel her inner Shirley Horn.
Stewart & Charlap's Something to Remember is a gorgeous and evocative album of intimate jazz music that will make a lovely companion to an evening meal, a good glass of wine, a night spent in quiet thought, solitude, an evening of romance, or any combination of these. The lovely recordings have a soothing aura and relaxing tonality that is sure to ease troubles as listeners escape their anxieties.
Ghostlight Records digitally released Stewart & Charlap's Something To Remember on December 4, 2012. Physical copies of the album were released on January 8, 2013. The album can be purchased from Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.
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