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Marian McPartland: On 52nd Street

AAJ Staff By

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Re-release by re-release, Savoy Jazz is revealing for jazz enthusiasts the richness of its library, built with an iron fist but with perspicacity, by owner Herman Lubinsky. The latest re-issue to astound listeners with head-scratching wonder (I wonder why this wasn't available before) is a documentation of some of Marian McPartland's earliest popular recordings, which led to her later renown. An institution at the Hickory House in the 1950's, McPartland's trio went through several personnel changes. Concord's "Hickory House Trio Reprise" captured live recordings of her 1954-1956 version with Bill Crow and Joe Morello. But that was after her group hit its stride. Savoy's "On 52nd Street" perhaps is even more significant because it includes two of McPartland's early bassists, Vinnie Burke and Bob Carter, who joined her group after the shakeout period involving her first accompanists, bassist Max Wayne and drummer Mel Zelnick. Just as interesting is the fact that "On 52nd Street" documents one of recording engineer wizard Rudy Van Gelder's earliest achievements in reproducing jazz as close as possible to its live performance sound, even with the crude equipment he must have worked with. Credit super-sleuth and legendary producer Orrin Keepnews with tracking down that fact. On "On 52nd Street," McPartland seems to be of two minds: entertaining and breezy in front of a live audience as they clink drinks and clatter and chatter (thanks Rudy for minimizing that sound), and meditative and explorative in the studio where the last five tracks were recorded. That split personality which establishes her genius seems to exist even today: Marian the entertainer who can charm the coldest listener and Marian the versatile intellectual who can play in the style of any pianist who appears on her radio program. Absorbing ideas and styles like a sponge, McPartland shows her influences from Shearing as she block-chords her way through, say, "Willow Weep For Me," and from Powell as she exhibits bop influences in her assured right-hand improvisations. Providing a hint of the Marian to come, "On 52nd Street" enlarges the Savoy Jazz re-release schedule with yet another worthy contribution that's worth every penny of its cost. And maybe more.

Track Listing: Re-release by re-release, Savoy Jazz is revealing for jazz enthusiasts the richness of its library, built with an iron fist but with perspicacity, by owner Herman Lubinsky. The latest re-issue to astound listeners with head-scratching wonder (I wonder why this wasn't available before) is a documentation of some of Marian McPartland's earliest popular recordings, which led to her later renown. An institution at the Hickory House in the 1950's, McPartland's trio went through several personnel changes. Concord's "Hickory House Trio Reprise" captured live recordings of her 1954-1956 version with Bill Crow and Joe Morello. But that was after her group hit its stride. Savoy's "On 52nd Street" perhaps is even more significant because it includes two of McPartland's early bassists, Vinnie Burke and Bob Carter, who joined her group after the shakeout period involving her first accompanists, bassist Max Wayne and drummer Mel Zelnick. Just as interesting is the fact that "On 52nd Street" documents one of recording engineer wizard Rudy Van Gelder's earliest achievements in reproducing jazz as close as possible to its live performance sound, even with the crude equipment he must have worked with. Credit super-sleuth and legendary producer Orrin Keepnews with tracking down that fact. On "On 52nd Street," McPartland seems to be of two minds: entertaining and breezy in front of a live audience as they clink drinks and clatter and chatter (thanks Rudy for minimizing that sound), and meditative and explorative in the studio where the last five tracks were recorded. That split personality which establishes her genius seems to exist even today: Marian the entertainer who can charm the coldest listener and Marian the versatile intellectual who can play in the style of any pianist who appears on her radio program. Absorbing ideas and styles like a sponge, McPartland shows her influences from Shearing as she block-chords her way through, say, "Willow Weep For Me," and from Powell as she exhibits bop influences in her assured right-hand improvisations. Providing a hint of the Marian to come, "On 52nd Street" enlarges the Savoy Jazz re-release schedule with yet another worthy contribution that's worth every penny of its cost. And maybe more. A Foggy Day; The Lady Is A Tramp; I've Got The World On A String; Manhattan; Aunt Hagar's Blues; Four Brothers; Once In A While; Just Squeeze Me; Liza; September Song; Embraceable You; Laura; What Is This Thing Called Love?; There Will Never Be Another You; Willow Weep For Me; A Fine Romance; Lullaby In Rhythm

Personnel:

Marian McPartland, piano; Vinnie Burke, Bob Carter, bass; Joe Morello, drums

| Record Label: Savoy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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