A native of Manhattan, Charlap grew up immersed in music. His father was a Broadway songwriter, and his mother sang cabaret. Much of his repertoire betrays these formative influences, relying heavily on classic songwriters such as the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael. What sets Charlap apart is his imaginative, unique take on the "great American songbook" tradition. He's liable to break into improvisation from the opening notes of a tune, sailing into uncharted territory before bringing the listener back with an entirely fresh perspective on a standard that might, in other hands, seem like a chestnut. Charlap makes a rare St. Louis appearance Monday at Generations, where he'll be performing solo. For a jazz pianist, that's tantamount to performing a high-wire act without a net.