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Jazz pianist Bill Charlap was born in New York on this date in 1966. His father, Moose Charlap (Morris Isaac Charlip), was a musical theater composer best known for writing the Peter Pan musical (yes, the one with Mary Martin); his mother, Sandy Stewart, was a jazz singer. “I never wasn’t going to be a serious musician,” says Charlap, who began playing music at age 3. “As long as I remember being cognizant, that’s what I did.... My dad was sitting at the piano and composing and singing, and my mom was singing. My life was music.” Charlap has recorded seven albums for the Blue Note label, two of which received Grammy nominations: Somewhere, featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein, and The Bill Charlap Trio, Live At The Village Vanguard. He has played with numerous jazz greats, including Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, and Wynton Marsalis. In 2004, he replaced Dick Hyman as artistic director of New York’s 92nd Street Y “Jazz in July” six program series. To see Charlap soloing on “Sophisticated Lady” and “All the Things You Are” — and discussing what he’s doing — look below.
“I believe that all people are in possession of what might be called a ‘universal musical mind.’” —Bill Charlap