Marian McPartland was already well-known to serious jazz fans by the time of this 1976 concert in Tokyo, although it was released prior to the kickoff of her National Public Radio series which gave her even greater fame in the U.S. McPartland has always had a gift for ballads, and her original, "Time and Time Again," is no exception; if someone hasn't already written lyrics for it, the song is ripe for them. Her next offering begins with a playfully disguised introduction that quickly gives way to a romp through Duke Ellington's "Rockin' in Rhythm." The Japanese ballad "Kojyo No Tsuki" won't be familiar to most jazz fans, though the legendary Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins is among the musicians who have recorded it. McPartland embraces the bittersweet melody with a stunning arrangement, and the crowd is obviously delighted with her interpretation. Following a trio medley of Gershwin favorites, Hank Jones then joins her for three piano duets, including a delicate "Easy to Love"; a shimmering waltz treatment of "Prelude to a Kiss"; and finally, a no-holds-barred "Yardbird Suite." Released only in Japan by TDK, this excellent CD will be rather difficult to track down.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden