It's Easy to Remember (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
Kenny Barron, Mulgrew Miller
When Lights are Low (Benny Carter, Spencer Williams)
This week's program offers the first of three sets from the Piano Jazz 30th Anniversary Celebration at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, held April 14, 2009. Your host is Charles Osgood, long-time CBS newsman and the host of CBS Sunday Morning since 1994.
The 30-plus year adventure called Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz began even before McPartland set foot in the Manhattan Baldwin Piano showroom to record the first episode. (The guest, by the way, was Bobby Short.) Things actually started rolling when songwriter/composer Alec Wilder told Piano Jazz creator Dick Phipps about this smart, elegant, down to earth pianist who would be perfect at the heart of a new radio show.
This first of three sets from the 30th year celebration begins with Wilder's words, read by pianist Bill Charlap, who then plays a tender, wistful version of Wilder's "While We're Young," slyly ending it with a quote from the program's theme, "Kaleidoscope." Renee Rosnes follows with "Chelsea Bridge," written by another of McPartland's favorite composers, Billy Strayhorn. Daryl Sherman takes the stage next, playing and singing Blossom Dearie's and Johnny Mercer's witty "I'm Shadowing You." With a wink and a nod, she updates the lyrics just a bit in the last verse.
Earlier in the evening, McPartland caught piano giant Randy Weston and requested his song "Little Niles." In his bravura performance, Weston explores the melody with a fascinating range of rhythmic and harmonic variations. Next, singer Kurt Elling offers a tribute to McPartland with Bob Mintzer's "All is Quiet," to which Elling has added lyrics. Elling and pianist Lawrence Hobgood create a soaring performance that ends in a whisper. Marian McPartland offers her thanks to the players, the audience and her producer, Shari Hutchinson. And then she plays an elegant version of Rodgers' and Harts' "It's Easy to Remember."
Wrapping up this first set from this 30th anniversary celebration is a powerhouse piano duo, Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller. The two take an extended romp through Benny Carter's classic, "When Lights are Low."