By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
"It's not like, all of a sudden, Northsix shows are Southpaw shows," says one of Southpaw's owners, Matt Roff. "But we're filling in some slots for them." Adds Abramson, "We're hoping to honor Northsix tickets. And if you can't go, you'll hopefully get refunds." Daniel King
Jazz musicians got jiggy with it on Friday when more than 30 of them crowded into Birdland to celebrate Marian McPartland's 85th birthday. The pianist spent the evening eavesdropping on her colleagues, accompanying them, and besting them with stacked, spacious chords. Pianist Bill Charlap introduced the event cleanly before Dave Douglas chimed in with a crackling, whiney trumpet solo. Charlap then passed duties to pianists James Williams and Billy Taylor, who swung so infectiously that Norah Jones could be seen tapping a shoe.
Then Tony Bennett grabbed the mic and summoned the Duke. Pleased as punch, ex-Ellington flugelhornist Clark Terry released a thick, full sound that trumpeter Jon Faddis muscled aside with a yelping, stampeding attackmore macho than music, however. Nawrah followed with a brilliant "Nearness of You" that set the stage for Jim Hall's "Happy Birthday" quotes and Regina Carter's violin slurs. Mindful to celebrate abstraction as well as accessibility, McPartland joined pianist Jason Moran for a free-leaning "Summer Time" duet. Moran, in top hat and top form, hypnotized listeners with his bulleting trills and hungry repetition. Saxophonist Chris Potter contributed tons of tricks but little spontaneity. Host Murray Horwitz obnoxiously introduced Karrin Allyson as "the most physically attractive Kansas City vocalist." Unfazed, she crooned and all but compelled. Horwitz received boos.
Taking care of business was trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who, in his leather pants, played a brooding ballad, eyes shut, valves open, and imagination salted by perspiration. Nnenna Freelon cooled him off with an operatic range and smokey depth that brought sap and sincerity to a steady boil. McPartland and pianist George Wein traded smiles during a "Take the A Train" duet that touched on over-explanation, but swung solidly past midnight, when Barbara Carroll closed the evening with speedy piano lines. McPartland ate her cake and shared it too. Daniel King