• Drum Prelude 
  • Alone Together 
  • Off Minor 
  • I Apologize 
  • A Squirrel's Tale 
  • Vito 
  • Vito's Dream World 
  • Taking A Chance On Love 
  • Tenting On the Old Campground 
  • Puttin' On the Ritz 
  • Death of a Cigarette 
  • A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square 
  • The Whiffenpoof Song 

Click on a note to listen in...

Bill Carrothers - piano
Bill Stewart - drums

Recorded and mixed at Creation Audio,
Minneapolis, MN on June 10-11, 1999

Produced by Bill Carrothers
for Birdology Records

Executive Producer: Jean Francois Deiber

Video from Marciac, France


Winner of the French Diapason d'Or de l'année
Winner of a German Schallplatten Preis
A Top 10 disc of 1999 in Jazz Magazine

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Here's what people are saying about Bill Carrothers - Duets with Bill Stewart...

JAZZIZ - June 2002
Nathaniel Friedman

Spare, intimate, and ripe with emotion, Duets With Bill Stewart has much in common with more orthodox duo records. The level of interplay and invention is high throughout, with a candor one finds only in these more stripped-down settings. But pianist Carrothers and drummer Stewart flip these clichés on their heads, substituting full-blooded exploration for the usual rhapsodic patterings. For once, a "less is more" philosophy results in music of unusual range and focus, not simply indolence or rote minimalism.

Whether tackling standbys like "Alone Together" or originals, Carrothers and Stewart forge improvisations of startling cohesion. No matter how brisk the tempo, ideas unfold gradually, offering a tense, long-form approach to structure that's more familiar to modern classical music than jazz. At times, it sounds as if the two are tracing shadowy subtext, not unlike the elliptical stylings of Miles' second quintet. It also comes as no surprise that Carrothers' playing recalls that of Andrew Hill and Herbie Nichols, pianists both known for their patient improvisations and composerly senses of intrigue.

Yet the greatest triumph of Duets might well be the unexpectedly haunted, urgent tone it brings to this most leisurely of settings. One can't help but feel that, for Carrothers and Stewart, the space afforded by the duo format is both a challenge and a threat. Without any other band members around, these two have more flexibility and more dark, pained space to fill. Although Duets is more dire than anything Bill Evans ever recorded, it still echoes the elegance of Evans' trios at key moments. The unexpectedly buoyant "Taking A Chance On Love", the album's most powerful cut, unfolds against its ominously empty backdrop. For Carrothers and Stewart, darkness is the birthing ground of light.


CDNOW - January 2002
Steve Holtje - Senior Jazz Writer

Recorded for Birdology in 1999, this album has already won a French Diapason d'Or de l'année and a German Schallplatten Preis. Now it finally appears in the U.S., on Dreyfus Jazz. Bill Carrothers has made seven albums as a leader (as well as serving as a sideman on albums by Dave Douglas, Bill Stewart, Ira Sullivan, and more), but here this is his most high-profile release by far. It more than serves to put him firmly -- and, one hopes, finally conspicuously -- in the ranks of the most interesting young jazz pianists today.

Without ever losing stylistic focus, Carrothers is quite versatile. "Puttin' on the Ritz" becomes a sinister vamp. He plays the head of Thelonious Monk's "Off Minor" in impressively idiomatic fashion, without sounding like a slavish imitator, before launching into an imaginative improvisation often more thickly chordal than Monk, yet nonetheless entirely apt. His original "A Squirrel's Tale" has an amusing nervous jerkiness and skittishness that fits its subject.

His boppish, bell-like take on "Taking a Chance on Love" exudes expectant joy. On ballads ("Alone Together," the original "Vito," a gorgeous re-imagining of the Civil War song "Tenting on the Old Campground," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"), Carrothers conjures lushly suspenseful stillness like nobody since Richie Beirach.

Throughout, drummer Bill Stewart and Carrothers mesh with a singleness of purpose that doubtless stems from not only a shared vision but also their many past collaborations. This is a must-own for pianophiles and the sort of uncompromised-yet-accessible album that a broad range of jazz lovers can enjoy.


All About Jazz - February, 2002
Jim Santella

Recorded three years ago, released on the Birdology label, and reissued now by Dreyfus, this duo session brings together two veterans who share a desire to create unique music every time out. Bill Carrothers is 37. Bill Stewart is 35. They're at a point in their careers where creativity and tradition have been united by a desire to move the music forward. Hence, familiar melodies and consonant harmonies are woven into impressions of the world around us. Dreamy afternoons coexist with spurts of charged lightning. Civil War memories sit side by side with some of Monk's best. Both artists explore a large array of textures and timbres. The pianist's hands control string vibrations, as the drummer's hands dampen his set. A standard, swinging arrangement of "Taking a Chance on Love" soon develops into conversant fours that move further and further toward the edge. With a return to the song's head melody, the duo proves that modern jazz needn't go past that point. No screaming or squawking here: just sincere creations that invoke a sense of adventure. "Puttin' on the Ritz" swings with a driving intensity that brings both artists around full force. No coffee required. "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" settles down with subtle passion and subdued nighttime impressions. Their "Death of a Cigarette" rounds out the session with a heapin' helping of the blues. Two trailblazers in the jazz world, Bill Carrothers and Bill Stewart continue to shape today's worldwide approach to the music we love.

How many stars?

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FonoForum August, 2000
T. Urbach

A total inspiration!


Mojo - February, 2000
Chris Ingham

1999 was a good year for nowhere-to-hide solo piano albums...an amazing set by Bill Carrothers, which while not exactly solo (it's actually a series of amazing duets with drummer Bill Stewart on Warner) conveys the brilliantly open imagination of a major new voice on the instrument.


All Music Guide
David R. Adler

This duo session was first released by Birdology in 1999 and reissued by Dreyfus in 2002. It features the underappreciated pianist Bill Carrothers in the company of the celebrated drummer Bill Stewart. Piano/drum duos usually create music of a highly textural and open-ended sort -- Mika Pohjola and Yusuke Yamamoto or Irene Schweizer and Pierre Favre come to mind. Carrothers and Stewart inhabit a similar universe, using the space where the bass would be as a doorway to unlimited invention, be it a rancorous "Puttin' on the Ritz" or "Off Minor," a stark, minimalist "Alone Together," or a slow blues called "Death of a Cigarette." Carrothers' edgy, polytonal harmonies give a modern thrust to material as unlikely as "Tenting on the Old Campground" and "The Whiffenpoof Song." His back-to-back originals -- the busy "A Squirrel's Tale" and the sad, lyrical "Vito" -- are a study in contrasts, giving Stewart a chance to display his expansive palette.


Halifax Reporter, January 18, 1998
(Piano/Drum Concert, Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Stewart, Carrothers Extend Jazz Tradition
by Stephen Pedersen

You really don't have to know the tunes when drummer Bill Stewart and pianist Bill Carrothers play. Each begins at the beginning and ends at the end and in between you are too lost in musical meditation to care. Sometimes at the end, something does emerge, Putting On The Ritz, You And The Night And The Music, a blues with echoes of Swinging Shepherd, for example. More often it's an original tune, like the stunningly pretty three-quarter time ballad Carrothers invented three tunes in to the first set at the Halifax Holiday Inn Select Commons Room Friday night on the JazzEast concert.

It illustrated, as if preserved in amber, Carrothers' sensitive harmonic imagination. For most of it, recognizing the exquisite fragility of the improvisation, Stewart simply put his sticks down and listened like the rest of us. Carrothers is a master of what music harmony texts call the deceptive cadence. Jazz musicians call it chord substitution. Both describe the same thing: a melody whose harmonies imply an expected chord on the next change, but gets a different one. When that happens, a mysterious chemistry takes place in the body, like an infusion of warmth. Carrothers introduces these subtle vagarities with such musical intensity you want to hold your breath. Poignant suspensions, poignant dissonances, grind away like a delicate wine on the tip of the tongue. The harmonic style derives from Bill Evans in its transparency and daring, in the execution of which, Carrothers, foot on the soft pedal, applies a soft pressure to the keys, making them yield like soft putty.

Stewart began the show by establishing a sharply articulated martial rhythm on the suspended cymbal which was to suture together a remarkable number of rhythmic and harmonic magnetic fields. Talk about your visceral response. There were so many cross rhythms, each seemed to focus on a different organ, your heart pulled one way, your liver another, your stomach, kidneys, etc., etc., all drawn in different directions. Through it all was a sense of chamber music as fine as a string quartet, each change calling for an intuitive response, and each response coming so quickly upon the call that they happened almost simultaneously.

Laymen may not fully appreciate what prodigious music making is going on here, though everyone hears it and reacts with the same heart. These guys are making it up as they go along, separately and together, in a feat of cooperative music making that goes way beyond the unanimity of, say, figure skating pairs, or even ballet dancers - unless they too are improvising. Stewart, the absolute technical master of rhythmic coordination, and Carrothers the absolute technical master of harmonic profundity and keyboard fluency, subjects these masteries to a combined musical imagination that grasps the music both in its tiny details and in its comprehensive formal coherence, uniting the first note to the last. It's what made Stewart's satiric version of Misty, a tune jazz musicians hate to play almost as much as they despise Feelings, outrageously hilarious. He deadpanned the worn-out melody with sticks hitting the snare drum once for each note in an ultra-square version that convulsed the audience. What made the joke even better was Carrothers' richly subtle and softly-voiced harmonic accompaniment.

These two musicians, barely in their 30s, are already in a category by themselves. They both honor and extend the jazz tradition. And they compel the ear as only the master musicians do.


FNAC review:
...Never arid and of a pure poetry, the CD is all the more intense since it is a duet with another rising star, the drummer Bill Stewart. A body with body where Carrothers never seeks to draw the cover (the album starts with a drum solo!) and where complicity is in the service of a fireworks of inventiveness. Counted notes, dissected silences, it is high time to devote to such an artist.

Jazz Portugal Net:
For its first CD for the French label, and after a series in Parisian concerts in duet met with a great success, the pianist chooses to bring his drummer friend into the studio to record these pieces. The result is a pure jewel. A good half of CD is devoted to standards, and it should be said that in this style of jazz, there are practically no other examples of the duet piano/battery. In spite of the fact that, according to Carrothers, the two accomplices "do not discuss too much of what they will play", they make watch of a sensitivity of rare mutual listening. The atmospheres which they create go from that, almost traditional, of the beginning of " Alone Together ", with the attack swing of " Puttin' one the Ritz, " while passing by the tended dance of " Off Minor " of Monk and the blues of the early morning, "Death Of A Cigarette". With no bass, Carrothers is free to approach the melodies and harmony in an oblique or direct way which he wants, whereas Stewart has all the place to deal with the rhythms and polyrhythms while creating sound architectures which are richly detailed. In fact, the beauty of this music has much to do with the sound tapestry which Stewart weaves with his drums. For me, there is not a piece here which is not successful, but I announce in particular the sequence which goes from "Vito", a very beautiful ballad of Carrothers, until the strange one "Vito's Dream World ", freely improvised, and ending with "Taking A Chance On Love", which brings back for us in a reassuring swing. This album, filled with magic moments, does not resemble anything of what I know - which is much to say considering marketing's reign on jazz. It is an independent imagination which distinguishes Bill Carrothers.


by Christian Delvoye

Only one concert, in Marciac in 1999, and the dedication was essential immediately and without reservation concerning the pianist Bill Carrothers. It can preserve what is the prerogative of the largest, sonority. It backed up a delicate touch resulting from the traditional, the fingers very close to the keys, and a left hand rhythmically exceptional. It is a great quality to know how to simply create climates from very few notes. It is located in a stylistic line which integrates as well the virtuosity of Art Tatum and the assets and contrasts of Bud Powell or Thelonious Monk. Its last album, in duet with Bill Stewart, highlights the privileged relationship between the pianist and the drummer. Beyond the musical performance remains the emotional power, always swinging.


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