Just Friends

Marian McPartland

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Just Friends Review

by Ken Dryden

Some jazz fans casually dismiss duo piano performances as mere novelties that all too often result in train wrecks. With hundreds of Piano Jazz sessions and a few additional multiple piano releases to her credit, plus an amazing ability to complement the style of any musical partner, Marian McPartland should have long since destroyed this musical myth. She's joined by six different pianists on this delightful date, who she has considered among her favorite Piano Jazz guests; however, these recordings were made specifically for Concord. Tommy Flanagan joins her for a joyous run through "Jeepers Creeper" and a lyrical take of "I've Got a Crush on You." Renee Rosnes sits in for a swinging version of "Some Time Ago" and a bossa nova treatment of "It's You or No One," while Geri Allen and McPartland revive the forgotten chestnut "Lullaby of the Leaves" and also create an eerie duo improvisation, "Chrysalis." George Shearing and McPartland amuse themselves with a jaunty arrangement of the title track, then play Shearing's chart of McPartland's "Twilight World." But the cream of the duets is shared with old friend Dave Brubeck. Brubeck actually composed "Marian McPartland" on the way to his second Piano Jazz appearance; their wonderful improvisations around this catchy upbeat theme find both of them at the top of their game. McPartland wraps the CD alone with the Dixieland standard "When the Saints Go Marching In," though her relaxed approach serves as an emotional elegy to her late husband Jimmy. Jazz piano just doesn't get any better than this.

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