Windows is a combined CD reissue of two out-of-print albums recorded by pianist Marian McPartland in 1979. Disc one, originally released as Portrait of Marian McPartland, is a studio trio recording with Brian Torff (bass) and Jake Hanna (drums) with the addition of the immensely talented Jerry Dodgion. It’s simply a great set. The trio plays an appealing mix of standards and originals with warmth, style and intimacy. Dodgion’s flute solo on the McPartland original “Time and Time Again” is worth the price of the entire set.
All the players clearly place a high value on what is usually called “musical space,” the use of silence to set notes off and to provide context for what is played. The result is music of uncommon clarity and accessibility. This is jazz as spontaneous as any, but more poised than most.
Much the same can be said of disc two, which was originally released in 1980 as At the Festival. This is a live recording recorded a few months after the material appearing on disc one. On this set, the trio is joined by alto saxophonist Mary Fettig for the standards “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” and “Oleo.” Ms. Fettig was then 26 years of age and already a veteran of the Stan Kenton band. This set is more freewheeling, but just as elegant and articulate.
The future of jazz in 1979 often seemed to belong to synthesizers and electronic instruments of all types. Well, in 2004, everyone knows who Marian McPartland is. References to acoustic pianos are now redundant, and hardly anyone under a certain age is likely to know of, much less care about, the technology that was once the next big thing. These quiet, swinging recordings must have been quite refreshing in 1979, and that quality can still be heard.
When these recordings were made, Ms. McPartland was in her 60s. In 2004, secure in a global reputation, she has nothing to prove to anyone, but she plays still, she tours no less, and her tenure as the host of NPR’s Piano Jazz continues. Her music appears to be, and certainly sounds like, a labor of love.
Track Listing: 1. Tell Me a Bedtime Story (Hancock) - 5:38
2. It Never Entered My Mind (Hart/Rodgers) - 4:02
3. No Trumps (Dodgion) - 4:55
4. Wind Flower (Cassey) - 4:15
5. I Won't Dance (Fields/Hammerstein/Harbach/Kern/McHugh) - 4:11
6. Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Landesman/Wolf) - 5:25
7. Matrix (Corea) - 3:41
8. Time and Time Again (McPartland) - 5:21
9. I Love You (Porter) - 5:19
10. Willow Weep for Me (Ronell) - 6:27
11. Windows (Corea) - 6:34
12. In the Days of Our Love (Lee/McPartland) - 4:45
13. Cotton Tail (Ellington) - 5:58
14. Here's That Rainy Day (Burke/VanHeusen) - 6:20
15. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper/Washington) - 7:33
16. Oleo (Rollins) - 6:24
Personnel: Jake Hanna - Drums;
Brian Torff - Bass;
Mary Fettig - Alto Sax;
Marian McPartland - Piano.