JJ 02/94: Marian McPartland – In My Life

Thirty years ago Pat Hawes was delighted by the comprehensive brilliance of Chris Potter and by the leader's unsurpassed piano-playing. First published in Jazz Journal February 1994


I have played this album through twice for sheer enjoyment, and can only suggest that it goes straight to the top of any sane jazz collector’s wants list! The sound quality is superlative, the tunes are great, everyone plays like a dream and the album serves to introduce a young saxophonist, Chris Potter, of outstanding potential. From his first notes on Coltrane’s Red Planet we hear a real swinger and his playing throughout shows great confi­dence and understanding of just what he should play on every tune. Potter plays alto and tenor saxes with equal facility. Indeed, such is his command of the range of both instruments that it’s sometimes difficult to be certain which he’s playing. His duet play­ing with Marian on Coltrane’s Naima is extraordinarily mature for such a young musician.

In an album full of marvellous things, two highlights for me are the piano solos For Dizzy and Singin’ The Blues, both played with great feeling. For Dizzy was originally improvised by Marian on her Piano Jazz show and with Dizzy’s passing it assumed a deeper significance. Singin’ The Blues was a favourite of her late husband Jimmy McPartland, to whose memory Marian dedicates this album.

Chip Deffaa has written erudite notes which analyse Marian’s playing and the tunes on this album – a pity that neither he, nor Chicago veteran Studs Terkel, who contributed an appreciation, tell us anything about Gary Mazzaroppi or Glenn Davis, whose bass and drums comple­ment Marian’s piano work bril­liantly throughout this superb album.

As to Marian McPartland, I’ve never heard her play better – as Studs Terkel points out, ‘We are instantly captured and captivated by the McPartland sound’, and in these days of mass mediocrity it’s good to see talent, good taste and musical honesty prevail! Outstanding.

(1) Groove Yard; in My Life; In The Days Of Our Love; (2) Red Planet; What’s New; Gone With The Wind; Close Your Eyes; (3) For Dizzy; (2) Moon And Sand; (4) Naima; (1) Velas; (2) Ramblin’; Singin’ The Blues (62.10)
(1) Marian McPartland (p); Gary Mazzaroppi (b); Glenn Davis (d). (2) as (1) but add Chris Potter (as/ts). (3) Marian McPartland (p) solo. (4) Marian McPartland (p); Chris Potter (as/ts). Sound On Sound Recording, New York, January 28/29, 1993.
(Concord CCD 4561)