All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

215

Shirley Horn: Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
An appearance on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz radio broadcast often sheds light on unexplored aspects of an artist's career as the host conducts her intrepid, conversational interviews. Here, we have both illuminating conversation and Shirley Horn's musical essence: heartfelt ballad singing at crawling tempos, spot-on piano accompaniment, and deep-in-the-keys swing.

Unless she knew you well, Horn could be a reluctant conversationalist. In this setting, though, she sheds some light on her career and musical philosophy, saying that the "good music her parents played at home (notably, Billie Holiday and Count Basie) deeply influenced her. At four, she started piano lessons, and as a teenager, she studied at Howard University. Horn also reflects fondly on a time in Washington, DC when she ran a jazz club, The Place Where Louis Dwells.

But it is the music that captivates. The most surprising moment comes at the start: a solo piano tour de force on "(Our) Love Is Here to Stay. Horn plays in and around the insistent beat, although she never marks it in straight four. And, as is her wont, she reharmonizes the song to her own taste.

In their duets, host and guest alike swing, giggle, swagger and shout encouragement. They wend their way through three warhorses— Cherry, Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce and Duke Ellington's "Love You Madly —as well as an improvised "Shirley's Blues. These rough-and-tumble outings are more jovial sparring than cutting contests; the pianists urge one another into abandon, bringing to mind earlier days when Horn would open her sets with a couple of long piano trio numbers. Here both pianists really dig into their blowing choruses. Elsewhere on the program, McPartland shines in her solo outings, Strayhorn's "Blood Count and a reflective "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.

The highlights of this broadcast, though, are Horn's ballads. She offers sumptuous accompaniment to her "under-the-skin vocals (quoting annotator Paul de Barros) on "I Could Have Told You, "Violets for Your Furs and "There's No You. Among the best of all her ballad performances, these pieces reveal understated yet palpable emotion, art without artifice.

Track Listing: Conversation; Love Is Here To Stay; Conversation; I Could Have Told You; Conversation; Billie's Bounce; Conversation; Blood Count; Conversation; Love You Madly; Conversation; Violets For Your Furs; Conversation; Cherry; Conversation; There's No You; Conversation; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Conversation; Shirley's Blues.

Personnel: Shirley Horn: piano, vocals; Marian McPartland: piano.

Title: Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: The Jazz Alliance

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Singing Fingers CD/LP/Track Review
My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Ain't It Grand? CD/LP/Track Review
Ain't It Grand?
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 25, 2018
Read If Not Now, When? CD/LP/Track Review
If Not Now, When?
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Perfectly Unhappy CD/LP/Track Review
Perfectly Unhappy
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Sorrows & Triumphs CD/LP/Track Review
Sorrows & Triumphs
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "Ritual" CD/LP/Track Review Ritual
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 25, 2018
Read "Head Above Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Head Above Tide
by Paul Naser
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Simiskina" CD/LP/Track Review Simiskina
by John Sharpe
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Quiet Life" CD/LP/Track Review Quiet Life
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 5, 2017
Read "In Stride" CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: March 26, 2018