Personnel: Marian McPartland (piano); Elvis Costello (vocals, guitar, piano); Marian McPartland; Elvis Costello; Gary Mazzaroppi (bass instrument).
Liner Note Authors: Marian McPartland; Ted Panken.
Recording information: 05/06/2003.
Author: Marian McPartland.
Photographers: Barbara Bordnick; R.J. Capak.
This is a straightforward CD release of a 2003 installment of Marian McPartland's long-running radio show Piano Jazz, in which each week she chats with a guest musician and accompanies them on the piano. For this episode, her guest happened to be Elvis Costello, and the former "angry young man" of the British new wave turns out to be a charming and articulate subject, discussing his career in music, the influence of his parents on his music (his father was a singer and trumpeter), the fine art of songwriting, interpretive singing, and working with Chet Baker. Costello also sings eight songs -- two of his own tunes and six jazz standards -- and is in fine voice here, displaying his knack for what he likes to call "blue ballads" such as "Gloomy Sunday" and "You Don't Know What Love Is," while his vocals mesh nicely with McPartland's spacious piano work and Gary Mazzaroppi's bass. This release sounds just like what it is, an informal radio session with the songs bookend by chat, and folks who prefer Costello in rock mode would be best off passing this by. But those interested in his softer side, as well as a perspective on this love of different forms of music will find this worth a listen. McPartland's fans will similarly be taken with her easy rapport with her guest, as well as her subtle but compelling piano work. ~ Mark Deming