Bill Charlap was born in New York City into a musical family. His father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer and songwriter whose credits included the scores to Peter Pan, The Conquering Hero, Whoop-up, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Kelly.
His mother, Sandy Stewart, is a popular song singer who performed with Benny Goodman, co-starred on TV's Perry Como Show and scored a Grammy nomination for her hit single, “My Coloring Book” by the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb. Mr. Charlap began playing the piano at a very young age. He studied with jazz pianist Jack Reilly and classical pianist Eleanor Hancock and informally picked up pointers from jazz/popular song pianist Dick Hyman, who was a distant cousin on his father's side.
Mr. Charlap was fully thrust into the jazz world in the late '80s when he joined baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's quintet and in 1994 was enlisted by alto saxophonist Phil Woods for his band. Mr. Charlap was the musical director of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, A Celebration of Johnny Mercer as a part of the JVC Jazz Festival in New York and later took the revue on the road.
He started his solo recording career in 1994 and has released several albums. In 1996, he began playing with his fine working trio of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. The group has recorded four CDs: 1997's All Through the Night on Criss Cross Records and three Blue Note Records albums: 2000's Written in the Stars (a collection of Great American Songbook standards), 2002's Stardust (celebrating the songs of Hoagy Carmichael) and 2004's Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein, for which he received a Grammy nomination.
Mr. Charlap received the pianist of the year Jazz Award in 2003 from the Jazz Journalists Association and was named outstanding jazz soloist by Manhattan's Night Life Awards in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, he and his mother received the top jazz duo Bistro Award for their engagement at the Algonquin in New York. In 2004, Mr. Charlap and his trio opened Jazz at Lincoln Center's venue Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at the organization's new performance center on Columbus Circle in the Time-Warner Building. He was also enlisted by J@LC to put together a series of concerts honoring great songwriters, including Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Alden, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. In July 2005, Charlap succeeded Dick Hyman as Artistic Director of Jazz In July at the 92nd Street Y's Tisch Center for the Arts.
Bill's two most recent releases for Blue Note Records are Bill Charlap Plays George Gershwin - The American Soul and a cd of ballads in duo with his mother Sandy Stewart titled Love Is Here To Stay.