Liner notes can produce fascinating facts. In the notes by Neil Tesser for “Ain’t Misbehavin’ Live at the Jazz Showcase, we learn that McPartland got her start in show business in a British musical act called Billy Mayerl and His Claviers. That insignificant fact points out that McPartland has been around for a long time. She reaches 81 this year and finding evidence of any decline in her abilities requires cautious listening.
In this pairing with Chicago legend Willie Pickens, McPartland sounds just like she did perhaps three decades ago. Assured, fearless and firmly in charge of matters, McPartland performs before a live audience at Chicago’s Jazz Showcase, paired with one of the Windy City’s kings of the blues.
Concord Records does listeners a favor by having assured that we won’t get confused by who’s who. McPartland comes out of the left channel and Pickens plays from the right. However, any longtime listener to McPartland should have no problem in discerning when she’s played. Pickens, who would seem to be at a disadvantage in going up against such a veteran and widely known performer. But the Chicago talent delivers a delightful and dazzling demonstration of his solid talents.
Recorded last December, the album boasts of excellent, clear sound, not always to be expected when sound magicians are working out of the studio. The song list contains a couple of surprises as well as a heap of standards.
It would be fun to have these stars get together again. It’s obvious that for both that age doesn’t mean a thing, and it does have that swing.
Track Listing: "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Along Came Betty," "Close Your Eyes," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Spring Is Here," "Paper Moon," "Autumn Nocturne," "Just One of Those Things."