Trying to pigeonhole various jazz recordings into only one category often proves to be difficult, especially when the participants are identified as coming from different styles. Therefore, The Middle Road (the name of this mid-'50s session) is rather appropriate, as the musicians obviously don't care one bit about critics' labels and produce a very satisfying session. Leader Jimmy McPartland is joined by his wife Marian McPartland on piano, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, trombonist Vic Dickenson, clarinetist Bill Stegmeyer, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Joe Morello. Stegmeyer, who is probably the least familiar name on the date, contributed all of the swinging arrangements, which spotlight all of the musicians. The music includes favorites from the 19th century and early 20th century, such as "Swanee River," "My Gal Sal," "Sweet Adeline," and "Shine On, Harvest Moon." New compositions include Marian McPartland's unjustly obscure ballad "Stranger in a Dream" (which is, unfortunately, listed as the well-known pop tune "Stranger in the Night") and "Slic Vic," a feature for Dickenson's muted trombone. This long unavailable Jazztone LP will be somewhat difficult to acquire.
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