Recorded in 1997 aboard the S.S. Norway, this album features McShann's trio and, in separate appearances, guest saxophonists Phil Woods, Flip Phillips and David "Fathead" Newman. The leader's tickling and romping piano work is, of course, pure Kansas City blues, with ringing embellishments tripping off the melody. His time is straight up.
The trio (with big-toned bassist Keter Betts and dapper, Jo Jones-like drummer Jackie Williams) plays six tunes by itself, Woods and Newman get two each, and Phillips gets four. On McShann's slow blues "Kewpie Doll," Woods' alto is determined and declarative-and what a great, swinging rhythmic feeling, too! And on "Yardbird Suite" he naturally tips his hat to Charlie Parker (who served an important apprenticeship with McShann in the late '30s).
Tenor man Phillips' set is notable for a silken "As Time Goes By" and a leaping, full-throttle "Sweet Georgia Brown" (in which McShann uncorks a good solo, too, with splashy chords and reeling single lines).
Newman purrs soulfully through the minor key "Crazy Legs and Friday Strut" and the slow, rocking "Moanin' Blues," the latter a bow to "Things Ain't What They Used to Be." On sea or on land, this set is thoroughly enjoyable.