The reunion of Marian McPartland’s Hickory House Trio on a September weekend in 1998 was recorded live at Birdland. The format they use for much of the session hasn’t changed in fifty years: piano lead, bass solo, and trading fours with a charged-up drummer. And why shouldn’t
the format remain constant? McPartland, Bill Crow, and Joe Morello do it as well as the best jazz has to offer. From her start as a pianist with a vaudeville act in her native England and later with the British serviceman’s entertainment organization, McPartland learned the ropes thoroughly. Her marriage to trumpeter Jimmy McPartland and subsequent move to New York brought her in contact with a "who’s who" of mainstream jazz. Nearly a decade at the Hickory House on 52nd Street and over twenty years as host of National Public Radio’s "Piano Jazz" have served to refine and redirect McPartland’s spirit.
With tempos that range from quite slow to moderately fast, the trio swings through familiar standards and favorite tunes. "Stella by Starlight" is performed alone at the piano expressively and with care taken to allow for the study of delicate harmonies. Similarly, "Last Night When We Were Young" wends its way through careful chordal choices and tonal blends. The bass is featured on "I Thought About You" with lyrical patterns in melody, while drummer Morello gets the call to control and punctuate unexpected changes in meter (from three to four and back) throughout "Falling in Love with Love." Halfway through the album while the trio is performing "In Your Own Sweet Way," the pianist quotes from "Thanks For The Memories." Recommended, the album is a fine salute from such a distinguished trio.
Personnel: Marian McPartland- piano; Bill Crow- bass; Joe Morello- drums.