the mellow side of elvis costello
Now 88 years young, Marian McPartland is a legendary jazz pianist and composer. For the past 27 years she has also been the host of Piano Jazz on NPR. Each week on Paino Jazz, a well-known performer joins Marian and they talk and play. The format provides insight into the musician’s craft and it showcases Marian’s understated, melodic style.
As I was driving home I was listening to KCSM and I recognized Marian’s voice and her program. She was discussing composing with an Englishman whose voice I did not recognize. He was mentioning that he had always been drawn to darker material, so I was quite surprised to hear Marian begin to play the first notes of the wedding reception standard “At Last.” I was even more surprised when her guest starting signing as it was immediately clear that she had been talking with Elvis Costello.
Apparently Elvis’ wife has been teaching him new tricks as the Attractions front-man and rock bad boy has matured into an accomplished jazz signer. His voice is well suited to the genre and he demonstrates a subtlety and knowledge of the material that is quite impressive.
McPartland and Costello’s hour-long session is available from Amazon or by track from iTunes. Those in a romantic mood will appreciate the perfectly crafted interpretations of “At Last” and “The Very Thought of You.” However, each of the songs is excellent and “You Don’t Know What Love Is” may be the standout. Costello’s own “Almost Blue” is also noteworthy.
McPartland and Costello are performing together this year at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival Sept 1st.