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Two Nested Steinway Concert Grands: Duo Piano Magic at the VJC

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The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap who will perform on two Steinway concert grand pianos at the VJC on May 13th at 7:30 PM. The married couple are considered amongst the finest jazz pianists of their generation. Charlap is an unparalleled expert on the Great American Songbook and Rosnes is a five-time JUNO Award-winning pianist/composer and Artistic Director of the Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival. 

Interview and Performance – Live on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland

Rosnes’ and Charlap’s devotion to the music and to each other is symbolized by their choice to marry at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a New York City jazz club, displaying their commitment to jazz and each other in one big statement. While performing with Rosnes on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Bill Charlap claimed “It’s perfectly apropos that we should be married in a place that centers around music, as our lives center around music and each other.” 

The living room of Rosnes and Charlap’s New Jersey home is taken up mostly by two Steinway grand pianos. When asked by Ms. McPartland if they ever play together “for fun,” Rosnes replied, “All the time, that’s mostly what we do!” She continued by saying we “spend a lot of time at the piano. It can be 2:00 in the morning or whenever we feel like it, we can sit down and play.” For those of us in the jazz community, it is intriguing to imagine the ephemeral sounds emanating from their home as they play alone or together in the wee hours of the morning.

A review in M Music & Musicians magazine states that “Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes are not like most couples. By the time they married in 2007, each was already a world-renowned jazz pianist with an impressive discography and a packed touring itinerary. …” In discussing their approach to their duo presentations, Charlap mused “We don’t alter our playing styles for each other, we just listen and react; the result is a new entity comprised of both our voices.”  Rosnes added: “Certainly both of us have distinct styles, but there is also a lot of common ground that existed before we ever sat down to play together. Being married, there is also an intimate spirit that comes through in the music.” 

Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap are both currently touring their most recent releases: Charlap’s Street of Dreams and Rosnes’ Kinds of Love. Because they are so busy with their own personal careers, their duo performances are rare and celebrated. Because this concert will not be live-streamed or recorded and because it’s nearly impossible to find their work on streaming or social media sites, it is a must-see! Their music is available on CD or via music streaming services via their 2010 collaborative Blue Note album Double Portrait. According to Rosnes’ website “[t]he album is a sparkling set of four-hand piano duets that traverses many of the couple’s musical touchstones. Double Portrait is a work of significance and depth, but also flows with the casual and organic quality of musicians with an uncommon simpatico, in life as well as in art.”Double Portrait is filled with choice bossa novas and lesser-known gems from the Great American Songbook. They will likely be performing a similar set at the Vermont Jazz Center. Their deeply rooted repertoire is filled with joyful surprises and generously informed by the two artists’ rich and diverse experiences. 

Bill Charlap

Playlist on Spotify

Bill Charlap has performed with many of the leading artists of our time including Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, Wynton Marsalis, Freddy Cole, and Houston Person. Born in New York City, Charlap began playing the piano at age three. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap, whose credits include Peter Pan. His mother is Grammy-nominated vocalist Sandy Stewart who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Johnny Carson Show and toured with Benny Goodman and Perry Como. Charlap is distant cousins with piano legend Dick Hyman, with whom his family is still very close. In interviews, Charlap shares colorful stories of growing up in a musical family amidst the company of some of the finest Broadway composers, lyricists, and actors of his parent’s generation. His music embodies the intersection of jazz and Broadway musicals. 

Charlap is strongly influenced by the best of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, but when it’s his turn to interpret this repertoire he digs in, asserting his own interpretations and impeccable sense of rhythm. His love for and knowledge of the Great American Songbook is conveyed in the songs he chooses to perform and record. For example, several of Charlap’s albums celebrate the music of a single composer thus giving listeners a taste of both familiar and lesser-known tunes from the respective composer’s songbook. These recordings include Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein), Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael), Silver Lining: The Music of Jerome Kern (with Tony Bennett), and Bill Charlap Plays George Gershwin: The American Soul. Time magazine wrote, “Bill Charlap approaches a song the way a lover approaches his beloved…no matter how imaginative or surprising his take on a song is, he invariably zeroes in on its essence.” In 2023, Charlap will be celebrating his 19th year as Artistic Director of New York City’s Jazz in July Festival at 92Y. He has also produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Renee Rosnes

Playlist on Spotify

Renee Rosnes is the Artistic Director of the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival and a 5-time JUNO Award-winning jazz pianist. Canadian-born Rosnes relocated from Vancouver to New York in 1986 where she was quickly recognized as a major talent. She has recorded and toured with absolute top-tier jazz soloists including Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, JJ Johnson, Buster Williams, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, and Bobby Hutcherson. From 2004-2009, Rosnes was a member of the SFJAZZ Collective and from 2008-2010 she was the radio host of Jazz Profiles, an interview series produced by Canada’s CBC. Rosnes has released over 19 albums as a leader and performed on over 300 recordings as a side person. As a leader, she has performed with string quartets and called on the talents of other world-class musicians like Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Zakir Hussain, Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Nicholas Payton, Steve Nelson, and many others. She is a formidable composer and was named SOCAN’s Composer of the Year in 2023. Rosnes currently tours as a member of bassist Ron Carter’s Quartet and is the music director for ARTEMIS, an all-star international band featuring the vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, bassist Noriko Ueda, and drummer Allison Miller. 

This concert promises a rare opportunity for viewers/listeners to experience in real-time a collaborative journey of two artists at the top of their game as they explore a repertoire that includes choice selections from the Great American Songbook, Brazilian gems, and harmonically rich original compositions. Rosnes and Charlap will delight and amaze us with their passionate delivery, exquisite technique, and telepathic interplay.

Tickets for the Show

Admission to this in-person event is offered on a sliding fee scale from $20 to $50 per person. All seats are general admission. Mask-wearing is optional and light refreshments available. Be sure to purchase your tickets soon as this event will likely sell out quickly. Tickets are available online at and by email at [email protected]. Handicapped access is available by emailing [email protected].

Vermont Jazz Center

VJC is grateful for the sponsorship of this concert by two couples who are very important to the VJC Family: Beth Raffeld and Philip Khoury, Rob Freeberg, and Judy Fink.  Beth Raffeld has been involved as a vocalist, board member, and consultant to the Jazz Center for over 20 years. VJC Board Vice President Rob Freeberg is an instructor at the VJC Summer Workshop, director of The VJC Sextet, and Music Director of the VJC Big Band. Freeberg and Fink are dedicating their sponsorship to honor the 100th birthday anniversary of Don Freeberg, Rob’s father who was a New York-based pianist. Publicity is underwritten by The Commons and The Brattleboro Reformer. The VJC is also grateful to the Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Humanities Council and New England Foundation of the Arts for their support.

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