184

Marian McPartland: Just Friends

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Marian McPartland is a magnificent institution, and this is a magnificent musical distillation of what she does best on her celebrated "Piano Jazz" series. There's none of the fascinating conversation, but the duets are here: two each with Tommy Flanagan, Renee Rosnes, George Shearing, Geri Allen, Dave Brubeck, and Gene Harris. McPartland rounds out the disc with three sweet minutes of "When the Saints Go Marching In," dedicated to her late husband Jimmy. The astounding aspect of this disc is that it was recorded in celebration of her 80th birthday, but one would never know it from listening. Two pianos can be impossibly chunky, but McPartland is the consummate accompanist, and she brings out in each of her partners here what is characteristic in their playing.

Flanagan is up first, with "Jeepers Creepers" and "I've Got a Crush on You." These takes shimmer with genial good spirits, although "I've Got a Crush on You" begins piquantly with a rubato introduction rich with contrasting moods. Rosnes' takes on "Some Time Ago" and the bluesy "It's You or No One" are a bit less smooth and glossy: her attack is forceful here, and she turns in some marvelous singing, trilling passages.

Then comes Shearing with "Just Friends" and "Twilight World." Jack Kerouac's favorite pianist plays breezily here but the overwhelming force of his playing is unmistakable, especially on the latter piece. A contemporary art world favorite, Geri Allen, follows with a few chances and dissonance on "Lullaby of the Leaves," but generally she sounds as much on holiday as everyone else on the program. The most fascinating track is "Chrysalis," her improvisation with McPartland, where she plays the piano strings while McPartland doesn't seem in a great hurry to bring things down to earth. Here McPartland demonstrates her wonderful versatility: she sounds as at home here as on every other track, and the two find a few interesting riffs.

The longest track is "Gone with the Wind" with Brubeck. Brubeck's harmonic sophistication is at the fore on this brooding take, which is virtually matched in mood on his tribute piece, "Marian McPartland." Gene Harris sounds a bit subdued as well on "There Will Never Be Another You," but "Lady Be Good" is a jaunty read.

Thank God for Marian McPartland – and a Happy 80th to this extraordinarily sensitive and intelligent accompanist and improviser.


Track Listing: Jeepers Creepers; I've Got a Crush on You; Some Time Ago; It's You or No One; Just Friends; Twilight World; Lullaby of the Leaves; Chrysalis (an improvisation); Gone with the Wind; Marian McPartland; There Will Never Be Another You; Lady Be Good; When the Saints Go Marching In (72:53).

Personnel: Marian McPartland, Tommy Flanagan, Renee Rosnes, George Shearing, Geri Allen, Dave Brubeck, Gene Harris, pianos.

Title: Just Friends | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Edit Peptide" CD/LP/Track Review Edit Peptide
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Tempe Jetz" CD/LP/Track Review Tempe Jetz
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "The Authorized Bang Collection" CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Skylines" CD/LP/Track Review Skylines
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 13, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.