Marian McPartland

85 Candles: Live in New York

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Marian McPartland celebrated her 85th birthday in style by hosting a lively session at Birdland with many guests (both young and old) who have appeared on her long-running NPR series. Whether she's a part of the audience or on-stage jamming with her friends, it's apparent that everyone in the club is having a blast. The romp through "I Love You" features potent solos by Phil Woods, Dave Douglas, Ravi Coltrane, and McPartland. Woods captivates the audience with his impressive solo introduction to singer Karrin Allyson, and captures the essence of the pianist's gorgeous "Twilight World" in a duet with its composer. Norah Jones is at her very best with the pianist interpreting timeless ballads like "The Nearness of You" and "September Song." McPartland displays her adventurous side with an intriguing improvised duet with guitarist Jim Hall (whose touch on his instrument is every bit as identifiable as his musical partner's is on hers). She is joined by Jason Moran for an unusually intriguing take of "Summertime." Roy Hargrove shines in a duet with McPartland on "My Foolish Heart." Fl├╝gelhornist Clark Terry takes solo honors in "Lester Leaps In," though Billy Taylor gives him a run for his money. Bill Charlap jokingly attempts to steal the show by sneaking in McPartland's "Kaleidoscope" (also known as "Theme from Piano Jazz") into the tail end of a solo medley. But the camaraderie among the musicians means no one is attempting to hog the spotlight; then again, no one has the need to do so. Bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Glenn Davis provide a solid rhythm section whenever one is needed, though Bill Crow takes over for "Tangerine." Excerpts from what was likely a very long party were broadcast in a two-hour special by NPR. Seven tracks omitted from the program are present on this valuable two-CD set, though three songs recorded that evening and aired were excluded. It would not be surprising to learn that enough music was taped to produce a follow up two-CD set from this very special birthday celebration.

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