PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart: Love Is Here to Stay

Will Layman


Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart

Love Is Here to Stay

Label: Blue Note
US Release Date: 2005-09-27
UK Release Date: 2005-09-26
Amazon affiliate

Hi, and welcome to the review of the most recent Blue Note release by pianist Bill Charlap. Thanks for tuning in -- we've got an exciting new album to talk about.

Host takes long sip of coffee from his Talk Show Host Mug.

I mean, this is one to really get "jazzed" about -- ha-ha!

Rimshot from Talk Show Band Drummer.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart's Love Is Here to Stay!

Talk Show Band plays a questionably tasteful version of the Gershwin tune that gives the new Charlap/Stewart album its name.

Welcome to the show.

Thanks... for having... us... Bob.

So, I've listened to the disc, and I have to say,... Host Bob nods off in mid-sentence. A Headphone-Clad Stage Manager rushes on, slaps his face, then hands him his mug of coffee. A looooong sip.

Ahhhh! Where was I?

You... were talking... about... the new album..., Bob.

Yeah, that's right. Well, the question is this. Bill, you're one of the smartest mainstream jazz pianists out there today, so: Do you know the definition of the word "soporific"?


Bob's head drops the host desk yet again. The snoring is pretty loud. The Headphone-Clad Stage Manager bring a whole pot of coffee to the desk and pours it on Bob's head.

Thanks, Biff. Nice Columbian. Now, where was I?

Sop... or... ific?

That's right, Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart's Love Is Here to Stay. Soporific! As in, "Inducing or tending to induce sleep"! Look, on my little index card here it says that you, Sandy, are Bill's mother. And you're a cabaret singer and the widow of songwriter and father "Moose" Charlap. So, yeah -- got it -- the mother/son thing, but did this album have to be all about tucking listeners in for a long evening snooze? Tell me what were you thinking!?

Well, they are sensitive treatments of classic Tin Pan Alley pop songs, Bob.

Fair enough, Bill & Sandy, but did you have to play them all at such excruciatingly slow tempos? Almost every tune uses the song's little-known intro, and I was just praying that you'd lock into a little swing after that. But no -- it's a full-length collection of dead-tempo ballads for piano and voice. Just thinking about it makes me want to grab my teddy bear and slip into my jammies. Let's all listen to the track ********.

Charlap's gorgeously voiced piano chords ring quietly. His mom's voice, pleasing in a somewhat vinegary way, hits all the pitches perfectly but with a slight warble. The tempo crawls. Every time there is a chance that the bass line will walk or the chords will pop, the whole thing is smothered in lyrical stasis.

The in-studio audience collectively snores like a den of grizzly bears, and studio pages cover them with complimentary NBC blankets. Bob, his clothes still drenched in fine Columbian espresso, remains conscious.

Bill, just look at these people. They are almost flat lining with boredom. They have been slipped a supersonic Mickey. They look line they were attacked by a Demerol intravenous line. The collective yawn this crowd just engaged in would have allowed you to slip a Buick station wagon down their gullets. I'm telling you: your album is snoozifying in extremis.

But they... are really, really,... gorgeous... songs.

Agreed. But they're curiously flattened by the treatment they get here. They don't jump or come alive. They just sit there, seemingly robbed of all rhythmic dimension. I hate to bring this up, Bill, but the old saw that you are a modern-day Bill Evans -- the whitest jazz pianist around -- is horribly exacerbated by this disc.

Hey! That's not an accurate assessment of Bill Evans! He was a gorgeous ballad player, but the guy could swing like mad! How can you judge me if you don't know your jazz piano in the first place?

Now that's the kind of energy Love Is Here to Stay needs. You're right about Evans, of course. And the duet album he made with a singer -- The Tony Bennett-Bill Evans Album -- was terrifically swinging. That album is funny, heartbreaking, brisk, pretty, and alive. I would never want to second guess an artist -- tell you what you should have done -- but this disc does not work.

But Mom sounds good, doesn't she?

Bill, you seem like a really nice guy, and your mom is fabulous. But her range of singing expression on this record is very narrow. Based on this album, it's really hard to say. Sorry, Mom. You're not gonna punch me, are you Bill?

Headphone-Clad Stage Manager peeks out from around the corner of the set warily. But Charlap and Stewart do not climb across the desk.

What do you like on our record, Bob? I mean, you're a talk show host -- isn't it the law that you have to suck up to guests?

Your version of "It Might As Well Be Spring" gets a nice sway going. I can tell you two have played together for years -- the feeling is so in sync.

There we go. Mom, does that make you feel any better? Bob, she's still pretty glum about this interview.

OK, but I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Hope to have you guys back on the show when you pick up the tempo a little, OK?

Mom, let's go get an egg cream, whaddaya say?

Talk Show Band breaks into theme song and the audience, after Headphone-Clad Stage Manager douses them with mouthwash, begins to wake up....


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.