Pianist Marian McPartland has made a boatload of friends during her many years in jazz. Many of them turned out for her 85th birthday soirée at New York's Birdland club two years ago. That's right, the grand dame of jazz is now 87! Fortunately for jazz history buffs and McPartland fans alike, a large number of them took active roles in the four-hour midtown bash as performers. Some took the stage with Dame Marian to mix it up musically, while others performed tributes as she listened on this special wide-ranging night.
The guest list included singers Norah Jones, Jackie Cain, Barbara Carroll, Curtis Stigers, Nnenna Freelon, and Karrin Allyson, as well as many instrumentalistsfrom pianist Billy Taylor, trumpeter Clark Terry, guitarist Jim Hall, and alto sax veteran Phil Woods to young modernists including pianist Jason Moran, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonist Chris Potter, and violinist Regina Carter.
The two-CD set captures many of the magic moments, ranging from solo to sextet performances. Three different piano duos team McPartland with George Wein ("Take the 'A' Train ), Moran ("Summertime ) and Taylor ("Capricious ). Norah Jones joins McPartland and her rhythm mates (bassist Garry Mazzaroppi and drummer Glenn Davis) for a version of "The Nearness of You that is both sweet and poignant. A McPartland-Hargrove piano-trumpet duo on "My Foolish Heart is both beautiful and warmly intimate in its understatement.
Chris Potter and McPartland's trio burn through "Tangerine." One particular sextet grouping features a splendid version of the Miles Davis classic "All Blues with trumpeter Dave Douglas, Phil Woods, hornman Ravi Coltrane, Mazzaroppi, Davis, and the late pianist James Williams. In the recording's lone solo moment, Bill Charlap offers a brief medley featuring "Onyx Mood by Dick Hyman, "Soft Lights and Sweet Music by Irving Berlin, and "Kaleidoscope the motif that McPartland uses as the theme for her award-winning "Piano Jazz series on NPR. There is much to enjoy and appreciate here.
Track Listing: Disc One: 1. I Love You (9:10) 2. The Nearness Of You (5:17) 3. Tangerine (8:04) 4. Last Night When We Were Young (6:02) 5. Twilight World (5:10) 6. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me (7:13) 7. Free Piece (2:36) 8. Old Friend (3:00) 9. Have You Met Miss Jones (2:28) 10. Take The 'A' Train (4:48) 11. Summertime (4:16)
Disc Two: 1. All Blues (9:15) 2. My Foolish Heart (5:20) 3. But Not For Me (3:25) 4. Memories Of You (6:56) 5. Yesterdays (6:04) 6. While We're Young (3:52) 7. I've Told Every Little Star (5:44) 8. Capricious (3:45) 9. What Am I Here For (4:59) 10. Onyx Mood / Soft Lights & Sweet Music / Kaleidoscope (3:00) 11. Lester Leaps In (7:44)
Personnel: Marian McPartland, Gary Mazzaroppi, Bill Crow and Glenn Davis plus guests Karrin Allyson, Jackie Cain, Barbara Carroll, Regina Carter, Bill Charlap, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Douglas, Jon Faddis, Nnenna Freelon, Jim Hall, Roy Hargrove, Norah Jones, Jackie King, Jason Moran, Chris Potter, Loren Schoenberg, Curtis Stigers, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, George Wein, James Williams, Phil Woods.