EC/Marian McPartlands Piano Jazz, 2003

Pretty self-explanatory
Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Mon May 02, 2005 4:44 pm ... =244951905

Marian Mcpartland's
Elvis Costello

Category Jazz
Label Cn
CDU Part# 6866958
Catalog# 12049
Discs 1
Street Date Jul 12, 2005

sweetest punch
Posts: 3476
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:49 am
Location: Belgium

Postby sweetest punch » Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:44 pm

cd universe has the cover of the new cd: ... =256408494
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:29 pm



Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jul 03, 2005 5:51 pm ... 1&alb=1837

Piano Jazz with guest Elvis Costello
release date: 7/12/2005

track listing
catalog # 12049
upc # 7-27489-20492-6
price: $11.98

“One of the most innovative, influential, and best songwriters since Bob Dylan,” according to All Music Guide, tunesmith, vocalist, and instrumentalist Elvis Costello is captured in an absolutely fascinating program of music and conversation with jazz piano legend Marian McPartland. From the inescapable influence of his parents—his father a professional singer and trumpet player who was greatly influenced by the jazz records coming into England in the ’40s and ’50s, and his mother, a jazz and classical records salesperson—to British jazz and R&B singer Georgie Fame to jazz icon Chet Baker, the English born-and-raised, self-taught Costello reveals the myriad and profound influences of jazz and Tin Pan Alley music on his singular and eclectic songwriting style. But it’s not all talk. Elvis and The First Lady of Jazz Piano also get down to some serious music-making, performing a timeless collection of standards, as well as Elvis’s own classic “Almost Blue” and the newly-penned “I’m in the Mood Again.”

User avatar
Posts: 956
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 5:44 am
Location: uk

Postby ReadyToHearTheWorst » Fri Jul 08, 2005 6:06 pm

Just received an email from - they've shipped my copy ( a couple of days early, hurrah!).
"I'm the Rock and Roll Scrabble champion"

Posts: 2501
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2003 5:24 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Postby martinfoyle » Fri Jul 08, 2005 6:31 pm

Piano Jazz: McPartland/Costello
Elvis Costello
Music from Jazz Alliance
Release date: 12 July, 2005

This recording of Elvis Costello on Marian McPartland’s long running jazz interview show will surprise only those of his fans who haven’t been paying attention. For the last 20 years, Elvis has made a career of confounding expectations and sneaking popular music and standards into the unlikeliest of places. This latest recording, featuring EC singing a mix of standards, ballads, and a few of his own tunes and discussing his career with the indefatigable McPartland, is the purest fruit of his long labor in the vineyards of the American songbook.

If you’re unfamiliar with the format of McPartland’s show, which is typically interview material alternated with a joint performance between host and guest, the chatty bits between the songs may throw you. For those who prefer not to hear the chatter, the songs are thoughtfully on separate tracks. It would be a mistake to skip the interview, though, as Elvis discusses his early influences (his dad the jazz musician, his mom’s record collection, British R&B singers), his approach to performing, his early 80s collaborations with Chet Baker, and other bits of interesting ephemera.

How about the songs? The performances are clean: I don’t think Elvis has ever turned in a purer rendition of “My Funny Valentine” than on this disc, his Little Jimmy Scott-esque vibrato on the final phrase notwithstanding. “At Last,” which Elvis dedicates to his dad who performed it many years ago, is understated and touching, as is “The Very Thought of You.” He takes a turn to the darkness with “Gloomy Sunday” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (and notes in an aside to McPartland, “I can make ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ sound dark—I’ve had this face for 48 years now, there’s nothing I can do about it!”).

Of the EC originals on this disc, the closer (“I’m in the Mood Again,” from his underrated North) is the better performance. With Elvis playing “composer’s piano,” the melody is effortlessly spun into a gentle reverie that, to my ears, betters the album performance. Alas, no such luck with “Almost Blue.” McPartland hangs back a little too far and the flow of the piece is lost; I also miss the coda of the piece.

To my ears, the highlight of this disc is “They Didn’t Believe Me,” a forgotten Jerome Kern jewel from 1914 that sings in this version. It narrowly bests Elvis’s other recording of the song with the Brodsky Quartet, available only on a promotional sampler from the Juliet Letters tour.

Based on the chronology of this session (Elvis mentions he’s in the process of recording North, this recording was made around the time that his relationship with Diana Krall began. The performances show it. This is a man in love, and the performances of these ballads benefit from it: gentle, sensitive, and optimistic in a way that is unusual in EC’s massive catalog. Highly recommended.

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jul 10, 2005 5:32 am ... 085695.htm

The State , South Carolina

Elvis Costello and Marian McPartland

Posted on Sun, Jul. 10, 2005

McPartland-Costello jazz program encores on CD

Staff Writer

There is no good music or bad music. It’s all just music to Marian McPartland.

“Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” — produced for its entire 26-year run by South Carolina’s ETV Radio — has allowed the 86-year-old jazz legend to share the radio stage with such greats as Shirley Horn, Burt Bacharach and Bobby Short. Two years ago, McPartland sat down to play with rock legend Elvis Costello. The resulting duets, which aired Sept.30, 2003, will be released on CD on Tuesday.

“I like what he’s doing now,” McPartland said of Costello. “He’s getting into a more straightforward way of singing.”

McPartland played the piano and Costello, who helped ignite the ’70s punk/new wave explosion, sang jazz standards.

Elvis and jazz? It’s not as far off as you might think. After all, he’s married to jazz sensation Diana Krall, and he has dabbled before in other genres, such as country and easy listening. But it doesn’t end there.

The Englishman’s mother was a jazz and classical records saleswoman and his father, influenced by imported jazz records from America, was a professional trumpet player and singer.

McPartland knew the elder Costello.

“It’s interesting to me that his father was a singer in an English band that I knew very well,” McPartland said. “He sang a song his father sang.”

That song, “At Last,” sits alongside Costello-written songs and standards on “Elvis Costello-Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast.” The CD will be available at most record stores and at

McPartland said Costello was pleasant to be around.

“It was a lot of fun for me,” she said. “I don’t get to accompany anyone that often.”

“Piano Jazz,” which airs locally at 8 p.m. Saturday on WLTR-FM 91.3 and WRJA-FM 88.1, usually has McPartland trading sounds with other jazz musicians.

Meshing genres is something McPartland does to stay fresh. Her collaboration with Costello is similar to what she did with classic rockers Steely Dan.

Shari Hutchinson, who has produced “Piano Jazz” for 20 years, said she talked to McPartland almost every day.

When searching for guests, Hutchinson said, she and McPartland talked about Costello because of his jazz background.

“She was intrigued by his playing,” Hutchinson said. “She heard the jazz influences. He’s well versed and well grounded in jazz.”

McPartland hopes to release more CDs, including one with Krall. When asked why she continues working, McPartland said she was having fun so there was no need to stop.

She told Hutchinson exactly when she would be done with music.

“She said she’s going to bop until she drops,” Hutchinson said.

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362 or
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ... 085694.htm
Posted on Sun, Jul. 10, 2005

‘Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz’ by the numbers


Number of years “Piano Jazz” has been on the air


Number of years ETV Radio has produced “Piano Jazz”


Number of stations that carry “Piano Jazz”


Number of countries where “Piano Jazz” can be heard through NPR


Number of years McPartland has performed professionally


McPartland’s age


Average weekly audience (United States only)

Source: S.C. ETV Radio

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jul 10, 2005 5:03 pm

This is from July '04 -

( extract)

Marian McPartland : We've got several “Piano Jazz” shows out on CD. We've got Dizzy and Brubeck, Carmen McRae, Chick, Bill Evans of course, Mary Lou Williams and now Lionel Hampton. I just called Elvis. They want to put his show out on a CD. I didn't hear back from him yet, but I hope I will.

Lazaro Vega : Elvis Costello?

MM: Yes. It was a really good show. He's changing into a sort of straight-ahead ballad singer. We had such a ball. We did mostly standard tunes, which I didn't think he knew, and of course we did his tune “Almost Blue.” I love that! I love that tune, and then there was one that Burt Bacharach wrote, “Painted From Memory,” that's a nice tune.

Elvis is appearing in Avery Fisher Hall in a couple of weeks with an orchestra. Three different dates. I want to go if I can. He's certainly different from the way he used to be. It's great that he can turn around and do something else. I'm dying to hear him and Diana do something together. In fact I'm trying to get them to do the show together.

LV: Good luck with that. I think everybody would love to hear that.

MM: I think so.

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:36 am

Philadelphia Daily News

JAZZ NOTES: Really get to know Elvis Costello and his familial roots in jazz and pop standards on the latest CD installment of "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz - With Guest Elvis Costello" (Concord.) He sings, she vamps through an over-the-top "My Funny Valentine," his own "Almost Blue" and subtle reflections on "At Last," "The Very Thought of You" and "They Didn't Believe Me." The between-songs conversation is equally telling. A-
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ... 20320/1046

The Courier-Journal, Louisville , Kentucky

"Piano Jazz: McPartland/Costello" joins Marian McPartland with Elvis Costello for some improbably beautiful crooning.

User avatar
And No Coffee Table
Posts: 2826
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:57 pm

Postby And No Coffee Table » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:35 am

I bought the CD for $8.99 at Tower Records this evening. They had at least a dozen copies, all filed under Marian McPartland's name in the jazz section.

User avatar
Miss Macbeth
Posts: 125
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:04 am
Location: North Carolina

Postby Miss Macbeth » Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:07 am

I guess that's better than the one copy they put out at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I do live in a small down but c'mon, one copy! Oh well, it's mine now :P

Listening right now. So far it's pretty awesome.
"Did you ever think there's far too many people in the world"?

sweetest punch
Posts: 3476
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:49 am
Location: Belgium

Postby sweetest punch » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:18 pm

Piano Jazz is also available on iTunes in the USA.
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

User avatar
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 1:19 am
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

Postby SweetPear » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:12 pm

OMG!!! I'm just like butter.....just a melted pool of butter.

I got my copy in the mail today from Amazon. I got a chance to give it a listen through in the car today and I'm dying!!!! I was totally impressed. EC, he's so charming! He gives me goose bumps, I swear.
My God, My Funny Valentine was so wonderful, I LOVE his version of that song. He sounded better than ever.
Marian Mc Partland is so funny.
Now, off to put these gems on my ipod.........oh Elvis........
I'm not angry anymore....

sweetest punch
Posts: 3476
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:49 am
Location: Belgium

Postby sweetest punch » Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:25 am

Piano Jazz has now an official release date in the UK: august 29th.

See ... 42-0506066
Since you put me down, it seems i've been very gloomy. You may laugh but pretty girls look right through me.

User avatar
verbal gymnastics
Posts: 10610
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:44 am
Location: In a very fashionable hovel

Postby verbal gymnastics » Thu Jul 21, 2005 3:31 am

And don't forget to buy it via the board!
international laughing stock...

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:30 pm

Paul Hardcastle Album Debuts at Number One on Billboard Contemporary-Jazz Chart
By Ben Mattison
23 Jul 2005

Hardcastle 4, the latest album from electronic-music producer Paul Hardcastle, debuted on the contemporary jazz chart this week at number one.

Also new to the chart was guitarist and producer Paul Brown's The City, at number eight.

Vocalist Lizz Wright's Dreaming Wide Awake, which topped the contemporary chart for the last two weeks, moved down to number two.

On the jazz chart, vocalist Michael Bublé's It's Time held the number-one spot for the 22nd week, with Paul Anka's Rock Swings at number two and Madeleine Peyroux's Careless Love at number three.

A recording of an appearance by pop star and composer Elvis Costello on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz radio show debuted on the chart at number 16.

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:00 am ... frxqqsldde

Review by Mark Deming

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.

invisible Pole
Posts: 2205
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2004 2:20 pm
Location: Poland

Postby invisible Pole » Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:04 pm

This review comes from PopMatters. ... lvis.shtml

Review by Zeth Lundy

Standard Time

"You sing songs very vividly when they're directly attached to experience, but time brings a different view," Elvis Costello explains while engaging in conversation and song with pianist Marian McPartland in this 2003 installment of her long-running NPR program Piano Jazz. "As [the songs] become, hopefully, more universal -- in the sense that other people hear them -- the selfishness of the writer has to diminish a little bit and you have to find the more universal voice of the song, if it's going to endure."

Costello's performance on this session, recorded a few months before the release of his ballad record North, stays true to his scholarly words. His method of interpreting standards and ballads has become stately and mature over the years; his abilities as a "respectable" vocalist are now at a post-graduate level where he can hold his own with a subtle and tasty accompanist like McPartland. Costello has been covering and writing these kinds of songs ever since his 1977 debut: Bacharach and David's "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" was an early concert favorite, while his own "Just a Memory" was written with Dusty Springfield in mind. As his career has descended down numerous paths of idiosyncrasy, his voice (which, as McPartland notes, has "an operatic quality") has developed into a classically robust instrument capable of traversing the rock, soul, and jazz forks in the road.

So when Costello sings "My Funny Valentine" now, some 20-plus years after he released a rendition as the b-side to "Oliver's Army", there's something aged and fatal in his throat. His voice becomes less stable as it skyrockets into the upper registers; those pleas of "stay little valentine" are exceedingly desperate and burdened with decades of experience. Reduced to a beggar clamoring for sentimentality's pocket change, Costello holds onto "stay little valentine" like he's holding onto a vanishing hope. His 1978 performance of the same song, while commendable, reveals a more hurried pace and a vocal tic that's more trembling lip than controlled vibrato. He could sing the song as a young man, but perhaps he wasn't capable of knowing it as he is now.

The same can be said for this session's performances of his 1982 original "Almost Blue", a devastating bid for inclusion in the fakebook canon, and "Gloomy Sunday", made famous by Billie Holiday and covered by Costello circa Trust (the recording of which is available on that album's reissue). He navigates the self-imposed gloom of "Almost Blue" like a trenchcoated soul drifts down a dark alley, loading the rich lines ("All the things that your eyes once promised / I see in hers too") with beautiful resignation. The song -- and this rendition in particular -- is equal to a man whose pressed suit is a fraud, or just too big; the only comforting route is to disappear within it. Costello tackles the suicide ballad "Gloomy Sunday" alone on acoustic guitar, and it compels McPartland to comment; "That might be the all-time miserable song," she confesses immediately afterwards. With both eyes firmly focused on the supremely dark, Costello's performance isn't an expression of tunnel vision, but rather the only vision a tunnel bestows its passengers.

Even when interpreting somewhat lighter standards like "At Last" (a desert island disc, he tells McPartland) and "The Very Thought of You", Costello cramps up with doubt and regret: his voice naturally constructs a layer of murky subtext beneath the most harmless words, which, despite the reservations some fans have expressed over his occasionally pursuing the ballad form, is the indisputable mark of a true vocalist. "You sound just like a jazz singer," McPartland says at the conclusion of "The Very Thought of You", wonder in her delivery. Costello responds with humility, admitting "it's a romantic leading man role that I don't naturally see myself in as a person". No matter -- these songs lend themselves to some self-reflection, but finding the universal thread is the path he's on.
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Sep 03, 2005 12:29 pm

The Times ( London)
September 03, 2005

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Piano Jazz
(Jazz Alliance)

He is, let’s face it, few people’s idea of a romantic crooner: specs too big, pecs too small, hairline too challenged. But, of course, Elvis Costello’s version of She brought the film Notting Hill to its sugary climax, and his moody Almost Blue is a modern standard.

On this recording from Marian McPartland’s US radio series, Costello smoulders through eight jazz ballads. The pianist McPartland chats with him between tracks and offers tasteful accompaniment as Costello launches into the Great American Songbook with all the gusto he once reserved for Oliver’s Army. As well as his own I’m in the Mood Again and Almost Blue, the set includes Gloomy Sunday and The Very Thought of You. Costello never holds back: his phrasing is sharp and his My Funny Valentine climaxes with a vibrato that is almost operatic. The singer points out that these songs are in his blood — his father sang with the Joe Loss Orchestra, and Elvis was familiar with their nostalgic glow long before he shared a stage with Wreckless Eric. If your idea of a punk singing standards is Sid Vicious doing My Way , think again.


Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:39 am

Mojo, Oct.05

Costello ***
Piano Jazz

Latest CD release for octogenarian jazz pianist's radio show

With an interview style as stilted as her piano playing is graceful and surprising , Marian McPartland’s talks/jam sessions with famous musicians are always fascinating, yet often peppered with awkward dead air, Marian stuttering to get another non-question out.

Elvis, of course, virtually ignores her, bullishly banging on, a familiar, peacockishly eloquent know-all egomaniac. And he sings like an angel. There are genuinely beautiful versions of You Don’t Know What Love Is and They Didn’t Believe Me, and a quite stunning Gloomy Sunday, Elvis’s voice as wide and thick as a mountain. His gut-busting My Funny Valentine may try the patience of non-believers and he’d undoubtedly agree that his own Almost Blue and I’m In The Mood Again display a strained craftsmanship next to the examples of Rodgers & Hart and Jerome Kern. Still, it’s all most amiable and in places, unexpectedly moving.

Chris Ingham

User avatar
Who Shot Sam?
Posts: 7097
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2003 5:05 pm
Location: Somewhere in the distance

Postby Who Shot Sam? » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:09 am

Just picked this up. I'm pretty familiar with the program format, and this was one of the better ones I've heard. Great versions of "Gloomy Sunday" and "You Don't Know What Love Is". No big surprises in the interview portions - he talks about his father, meeting/working with Chet Baker, the appeal of dark songs/material, the Brodsky Quartet, etc. - but the interviews are really secondary to the music. Very enjoyable.
Mother, Moose-Hunter, Maverick

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Sep 11, 2005 5:24 pm

The Sunday Times ( London) 12 Sept. 05

Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast
Jazz Alliance TJA-12049-2

How much could a middle-aged rocker and an octogenarian pianist have in common? Quite a lot, actually. Marian McPartland’s interview-cum-jam sessions on America’s NPR network always draw thoughtful responses from jazz VIPs. Costello doesn’t give away much about his life as Mr Diana Krall, but he’s more than forthcoming on his weakness for minor keys and his early passion for Georgie Fame’s music. His duets with McPartland are no less eloquent. And you will be surprised at how much vulnerability he brings to At Last or The Very Thought of You. This could be as close as he gets to a conventional standards album. Beautiful, quite beautiful. Four stars

User avatar
Mr. Average
Posts: 2031
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2003 12:22 pm
Location: Orange County, Californication

Postby Mr. Average » Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:38 pm

This is an incredible interview and recording for Elvis, showcasing his vocal ability like nothing I have ever heard before. Until this recording, Elvis was a brilliant composer and lyricist, and a good vocal interpreter of his music. After this, he really has extended his vocal talent in ways that I could not appreciate until I heard this ultra clean CD documentary of the interview and the 8 songs that pace the interview.

Elvis is gracious and witty and all that. But the songs are marvelous. Only 8 songs, but no need for more after you hear them. Instead of 8 slices of white bread, you get 8 slices of rich, homemade, hot-baked, whole-grain bread that is both filling and taste great.

I am really glad to have added this to my collection. I think I paid 9.99US$ on Amazon for it. Worth more. If you like North, this is an absolute must.
"The smarter mysteries are hidden in the light" - Jean Giono (1895-1970)

User avatar
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2004 10:21 am
Location: southwest of Boston

Postby wardo68 » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:21 pm

I finally picked this up a few weeks ago, and I'm enjoying it. The interview portions are a nice twist on his usual repsonses on his musical education, but just by loading only the performances into the iPod they're a very pleasant listen indeed. For those who were turned off by North, you can pretend it's EC singing with Steve instead of Ms. McPartland. Anyway, I give it a solid thumbs up, and a nice addition to the rack.

Posts: 14321
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:01 am

Elvis Costello/Marian McPartland

Piano Jazz

The Jazz Alliance/Concord Music

Elvis Costello has been developing a supplementary career to being “Elvis Costello” since his collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet fifteen years ago. Piano Jazz, an album co-credited to pianist and radio host Marian McPartland, is the latest entry in his non-rock and roll discography, consisting of interpretations of standards with a couple numbers from Costello’s own songbook.

Originally recorded for McPartland’s NPR radio show, the episode is reproduced in its entirety so that songs are separate from conversation. Intelligent conversation, yes, but most will want to keep the remote handy after the first listen. In strong voice with the small backing of piano and acoustic bass (with the occasional guitar), Costello uses more range than he allows himself in his own lyrically anchored songs. In doing so, he proves himself to be one of the more expressive singers around, free of melismatic acrobatics and, fortunately, scatting. Unlike the schlocky smirk of Rod Stewart’s recent sojourn into Tin Pan Alley, Costello and McPartland play these songs without condescension.

Most of the songs selected have turned up in previous Costello versions, usually ending up on the bonus discs of Rhino’s reissues. Those earlier versions of “My Funny Valentine” (from the Armed Forces-era) and “The Very Thought of You” (from Kojak Variety) were smothered by limp production, but these renderings have a professional casualness that is not nearly as distracting. “Gloomy Sunday,” which McPartland claims to be “one of the more miserable songs I know,” is not too different from the Trust version. A turn on “At Last,” famously done by Etta James (and infamously by numerous American Idol warblers) trades its slow burn for more consistency with the rest of these “blue ballads,” as Costello calls them. There are two Costello originals as well. The seemingly ubiquitous “Almost Blue,” a ringer for jazzists due to its Costello-acknowledged indebtedness to “The Thrill is Gone.” The other Costello original, “In The Mood Again” is one of the better songs from the overly-maligned North album.

There is a unified playing to all of these songs, mostly consisting of a gentle swinging nature. McPartland, who has been playing since 1937, has a tasteful and light touch on the piano and these songs, though worn by time somewhat, are not stuffy. This is not Bill Evans and Tony Bennett by any means, but these songs are performed without the nostalgic illusions induced by Michel Buble.

The division of the songs by conversation is inconvenient. The album is probably half-talk but Costello is fortunately in a good mood. McPartland, as an interviewer, leads Costello through his early musical history and influence of his parents, a musician and a record seller, on his expansive tastes. Some of this is rerun news for Costello obsessives but it does show how far back both jazz and rock and roll have been running parallel in Costello’s mind. This is probably an inessential pick-up for most, but for MacManus historians there is some value in hearing the early inspirations that have remained a foundational basis of Costello’s work. Costello has proven over time that his non-rock and roll projects are not lunges for artistic legitimacy by an indulged dilettante, but thoughtful attempts to push his artistic impulses beyond convention. And it’s much better than Rod Stewart’s American Songbook Vol. 74.

Reviewed by: Tim A. Thompson
Reviewed on: 2005-12-05

Return to “Elvis Costello General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests