How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
On the day after Marian McPartland turned 85, this large group of her jazz friends got together at Birdland in New York to celebrate with her. She played piano with them in an endearing program of love songs that belie their affection for each other. Everybody loves Marian McPartland and respects her for her many accomplishments.
Concord's 2-CD set captures this event in detail. It has aired on NPR several times. McPartland enjoyed the get-together. Of the evening's effect on her, she remarked, "It was wonderful having all these people at a party and then getting to play with so many of my friends."
On 85 Candles she performs piano duets with Dr. Billy Taylor, Jason Moran and George Wein. Norah Jones sings "The Nearness of You" with McPartland's trio. Karrin Allyson sings the pianist's "Twilight World." Nnenna Freelon sings "What Am I Here For?" and Jackie Cain sings "While We're Young" with McPartland's piano accompaniment. Clark Terry and Phil Woods are on hand to participate. Roy Hargrove performs "My Foolish Heart" with McPartland at the piano, and Barbara Carroll sings "Old Friend" from the heart.
Regina Carter interprets "I Can't Believe that You're in Love With Me" with reflections of Swing. Jim Hall and McPartland create a "Free Piece" that plunges into the inner depths of musical partnership. They communicate openly and freely.
"But Not For Me" features Curtis Stigers with McPartland, Gary Mazzaroppi, and Glenn Davis. His enthusiastic swing and lively scat chorus represent a whole generation of great straight-ahead jazz. "I've Told Every Little Star" features Jackie King with the same trio. As with everyone else on the program, the guitarist tugs at our heartstrings in the spirit of the evening. His warm, fluid delivery proves memorable.
McPartland's trio interpretation of "Yesterdays" brings Bill Crow on board with drummer Davis. Together, they sashay gracefully through reflections of more than a half century in jazz. She's been performing like this since 1938, and plans to continue forever. We're fortunate to have her in our corner of the planet.
Track Listing: Disc 1: I Love You; The Nearness of You; Tangerine; Last Night When We Were Young; Twilight World; I Can't Believe that You're in Love With Me; Free Piece; Old Friend; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Take the 'A' Train; Summertime; Disc 2: All Blues; My Foolish Heart; But Not For Me; Memories of You; Yesterdays; While We're Young; I've Told Every Little Star; Capricious; What Am I Here For?; Onyx Mood/Soft Lights & Sweet Music/Kaleidoscope; Lester Leaps In.
Personnel: Marian McPartland- piano; Norah Jones, Karrin Allyson, Curtis Stigers, Jackie Cain, Nnenna Freelon- vocal; Barbara Carroll- vocal, piano; George Wein, Bill Charlap, Jason Moran, James Williams, Dr. Billy Taylor- piano; Gary Mazzaroppi, Bill Crow- bass; Glenn Davis- drums; Jon Faddis, Dave Douglas- trumpet; Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove- flugelhorn; Phil Woods- alto saxophone; Ravi Coltrane, Chris Potter, Loren Schoenberg- tenor saxophone; Regina Carter- violin; Jim Hall, Jackie King- guitar.