Published since 2000
Ken has collected jazz for over three decades and been a jazz journalist since 1988.
There aren't any real surprises among the songs selected, but Grappelly's violin and McPartland's piano are a heavenly match, as it is obvious to any listener that they are enjoying themselves throughout the show. The duets are fairly brief, but the improvising by each of them is inspired.
Grappelly enjoyed playing piano, so anyone who saw him in concert during the 1980s (though this was hardly the only time) probably remembers him switching to solo piano for a song or two. Following his delicately swinging solo piano interpretation of "Looking at You" (which may sound similar to Teddy Wilson's style), he also plays two piano duets with his hostess: "Anything Goes" and "Shine," with appropriately swinging results.
McPartland also offers a touching improvised portrait of her guest, prompting Grappelly to ask for a tape of the performance as a souvenir. After a long discussion of Grappelly's partnership with Django Reinhardt, Marian plays a stunning solo rendition of the late guitarist's best known composition, which was an expected part of any Grappelly concert, though he graciously allows McPartland to play the timeless ballad unaccompanied.
Although the choice of a final tune must have been difficult, due to the large repertoire of each of the two musicians, they conclude the program with a rousing take of "Oh, Lady Be Good!" One of hundreds of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz programs recorded for broadcast by NPR stations since 1979, this edition clearly deserves to be commercially released.
Stephane Grappelly/violin (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 21) & piano (12, 14, 17)
Marian McPartland/piano (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21)
Note on the spelling of the violinist's name
I called Marian McPartland a few days prior to the session and asked if she had ever considered having Stephane Grappelli as a guest on her show. Her reply was "Funny you should mention him; we're taping later this week." I told her about an old piano trio record of his that I owned and she asked me to Fed Ex it to her. I asked her to get him to autograph it, which she did in the hotel lobby prior to the recording session. The record jacket is dated Oct. 5, 1989 and signed "Stephane Grappelly," the original spelling of his name.
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