It says something about a couple that can sit across from each other—wordlessly, yet saying something—and intermittently cast their eyes upon one another for an hour or so.
This will be the duo debut performance by pianists Renee Rosnes and her husband, Bill Charlap, at the Maverick Concert Hall’s Jazz at the Maverick series Two Pianos at the Maverick on August 25. Alexander Platt, music director of the Maverick Concerts, is a long-time admirer of Charlap’s work. “I’m at heart a classical musician through and through, but the classic jazz piano—George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller, Marian McPartland, Bill Evans—has long been a part of my life, and let’s just say I know when someone can get their way around a piano.” Charlap performed last summer at the Maverick “and he was a hit in every way,” beams Platt. After the concert, Platt says that “Bill suggested that he and Renee come back this year. I immediately was interested.”
Both Rosnes and Charlap were seated at pianos as toddlers. Since their early tutelage, they’ve garnered much acclaim and admiration for their recorded output and their ensemble work (Rosnes as a co-founder of the San Francisco Jazz Collective and Charlap with drummer Kenny Washington and bassist Peter Washington.) Charlap, who comes from a musical family (Broadway composer Moose Charlap was his father and singer Sandy Stewart is his mother), married Rosnes five years ago, and they’ve tailored their musical schedules to accommodate a family schedule that includes their three children. Charlap wrapped up another year as Artistic Director of the 92nd Street Y Jazz in July Festival in New York last month and Rosnes will have just come from playing with bassist Ron Carter in Brazil and at the famed Birdland in New York by concert time at the Maverick. Their 2010 duo release is titled Double Portrait on EMI’s Blue Note records.
It’s anyone’s guess what will be performed by them at the concert. “Honestly, I don’t know,” says Platt. “This season we are celebrating things French, due to the landmark anniversaries of Debussy and Ravel. As the French Impressionists have always been close to jazz’s heart, I am sure they’ll make more than a nod to Paris.” Pianist Andrew Russo and Frederic Chui perform the next afternoon at 4pm with “music of or inspired by Paris—from Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun to Gershwin’s An American in Paris to Ravel’s La Valse. It’s all part of a truly fabulous Two-Piano Weekend at the Maverick.”
This season shows off the newly renovated 230-seat hall to music lovers. Built in 1916, it began to show its age (leaks and cracks) through its oak, pine, and chestnut structure. With grants from Save America’s Treasures and New York State Council for the Arts and federal, private, and state arts funding grants and donations, the renovations are (for) now complete.
Platt is truly excited to hear Rosnes and Charlap perform. “[I] have never heard them play together in the flesh—and I can’t wait for that to happen at the Maverick, where we’ll have two mint-condition Yamaha grands at their disposal.” Two sets of hands wedded together for an evening of music and for a lifetime of creative passion.
Pianists Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes will perform as part of the Maverick Concert Hall’s Jazz at the Maverick series Two Pianos at the Maverick on Saturday, August 25 at 6:30pm. Tickets are $40 (adults), $5 (students with ID) and free for children under 12. (845) 679-8217; Maverickconcerts.org