R.I.P. Jazz pianist and radio show host Marian McPartland, age 95. She was a master at her craft, a great mentor to many, and her longtime radio show Piano Jazz was a great source of insight into the history of Jazz! and the people who create the music!! Marian, Cedar Walton, George Duke, and Mulgrew Miller are surely having some great piano jams in Heaven!!
McPartland playing at St. Joseph’s Villa school for disadvantaged children, 1975
|Birth name||Margaret Marian Turner|
|Born||20 March 1918|
|Origin||Slough, England, UK|
|Died||20 August 2013 (aged 95)
Long Island, New York, U.S.
|Associated acts||Jimmy McPartland
Hickory House Trio
|Baldwin SF10 Artist Grand|
Margaret Marian McPartland, OBE (née Turner; 20 March 1918 – 20 August 2013), was an English-born jazz pianist, composer, and writer. She was the host of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on National Public Radio from 1978 until she stepped down at the end of 2011.
Early life[edit source | editbeta]
Career[edit source | editbeta]
She pursued classical studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Much to the dismay of her family, she developed a love for American jazz and musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams, and many others. In 1938, despite her family’s efforts to keep her at Guildhall, Marian left to join Billy Mayerl’s Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act, performing under the stage name of Marian Page. The group toured throughout Europe during World War II, entertaining Allied troops.
While touring with USO shows in Belgium, she met and began performing with Chicago cornetistJimmy McPartland in 1944. The couple soon married, playing at their own military base wedding inGermany. After the war, they moved to Chicago to be near Jimmy’s family. Then, in 1949, the McPartlands settled in Manhattan, living in an apartment in the same building as the Nordstrom Sisters. With Jimmy’s help and encouragement, Marian started her own trio which enjoyed a long residency at a New York City jazz club, the Hickory House, during 1952–1960. The drummer Joe Morello was a member of the group until he departed to join Dave Brubeck‘s Quartet. She also played at The Embers.
In 1958 a black and white group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians, including McPartland, was photographed in front of a Brownstone in Harlem, New York City. Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the photo, which was called, “A Great Day in Harlem“, and it became a famous view of New York’s jazz scene at the time. Until her death in August 2013, she was one of only four of the 57 participating musicians who was still living. After many years of recording for labels such as Capitol, Savoy, Argo, Sesac, Time, and Dot, in 1969 she founded her own record label, Halcyon Records, before having a long association with the Concord Jazz label.
Radio career[edit source | editbeta]
In 1964, Marian McPartland launched a new venture on WBAI-FM (New York City), conducting a weekly radio program that featured recordings and interviews with guests. Pacifica Radio‘s West Coast stations also carried this series, which paved the way for Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, a National Public Radioseries that began on 4 June 1978. It was the longest-running cultural program on NPR as well as one of the longest-running jazz programs ever produced on public radio. The program featured McPartland at the keyboard with guest performers, usually pianists, but also singers, guitarists, other musicians, and even the non-musician Studs Terkel. Several Piano Jazz programs have been released on CD by Concord Records. She celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the NPR series with a live taping at the Kennedy Center for which Peter Cincotti was the guest. After not having recorded a new show since September 2010, on 10 November 2011, NPR announced that McPartland was stepping down as host of Piano Jazz. She then asked her long time friend, Jazz pianist Jon Weber, to carry on with the show. As a result, Piano Jazz: Rising Stars, a series hosted by Weber, began broadcast on NPR 3 January 2012. Piano Jazz soon returned to the air in repeat broadcasts.
Awards and compositions[edit source | editbeta]
Marian was awarded a Grammy in 2004, a Trustees’ Lifetime Achievement Award, for her work as an educator, writer, and host of NPR Radio’s long-runningMarian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. Although a master at adapting to her guest’s musical styles and having a well-known affinity for beautiful and harmonically-rich ballads, she also recorded many tunes of her own. Her compositions included “Ambiance,” “There’ll Be Other Times,” “With You In Mind,” “Twilight World,” and “In the Days of Our Love.”
Death[edit source | editbeta]
McPartland died on 20 August 2013 of natural causes at her home in Long Island, New York. She was 95 years old.
Musical style[edit source | editbeta]
McPartland’s encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz standards, highly musical ear, involvement in over 60 years of evolving jazz styles, and rich experience blending with radio guests led to a musical style that was described as “flexible and complex, and almost impossible to pigeonhole.” She was known as a harmonically and rhythmically complex and inventive improviser. “She was never content to be in one place, and always kept improving. She has great ears and great harmonics. Because of her ear, she can go into two or three different keys in a tune and shift with no problem.”
Discography[edit source | editbeta]
|This section requires expansion.(September 2012)|
- Jazz at Storyville (Savoy, 1951)
- Lullaby of Birdland (Savoy, 1952)
- Moods (Savoy, 1953)
- Marian McPartland at the Hickory House (Capitol, 1955)
- Marian McPartland After Dark (Capitol, 1956)
- With You In Mind (Capitol, 1957)
- Marian McPartland at the London House (Argo, 1959)
- Interplay (Halcyon, 1969)
- Ambiance (Jazz Alliance, 1970)
- Now’s the Time (Halcyon, 1977)
- From This Moment On (Concord, 1978)
- At the Festival (Concord, 1979)
- Personal Choice (Concord, 1982)
- Willow Creek and Other Ballads (Concord, 1985)
- In My Life (Concord, 1993)
- Live at Yoshi’s Nitespot (Concord, 1995)
- Silent Pool (Concord, 1997)
- Windows (Concord, 2004)
With Helen Merrill
- Merrill at Midnight (EmArcy, 1957)
Awards[edit source | editbeta]
Honorary degrees[edit source | editbeta]
- Ithaca College
- Hamilton College
- Union College
- Bates College
- Bowling Green State University
- University of South Carolina
- Eastman School of Music
- Berklee College of Music
- City University of New York
Other awards[edit source | editbeta]
- 2007 – National Radio Hall of Fame
- 2006 – Long Island Music Hall of Fame induction
- 2004 – Grammy Trustees Award from the Recording Academy
- 2001 – American Eagle Award from the National Music Council
- 2001 – Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television
- 2000 – NEA Jazz Masters Award
- 2000 – Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award
- 1994 – Down Beat Lifetime Achievement Award
- 1991 – ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award
- 1986 – International Jazz Association of Jazz Education Hall of Fame induction
- 1983 – Peabody Award
Notes[edit source | editbeta]
- ^ Hasson, Claire Marian McPartland: Jazz Pianist: An Overview of a Career. PhD Thesis.. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- ^ Marian McPartland Stepping Away From Keyboard on Her ‘Piano Jazz’ Radio Show. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- ^ Jazz spots such as the Hickory House and The Embers were thriving night clubs.
- ^ Judge for Yourself in Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, A Complete Directory to Prime Time Cable and Network TV Shows, 1946 – Present, p. 622. New York: Random House Publishing, 2003. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- ^ Day, Jeffrey (13 November 2007). Jazz great McPartland to unveil symphonic piece on Rachel Carson. [popmatters.com]. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59282. p. 24. 31 December 2009.
- ^ Contreras, Felix (21 August 2013). “Marian McPartland, ‘Piano Jazz’ Host, Has Died”, NPR. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- ^ Hasson, Claire. A Discussion Of Marian McPartland’s Style in Marian McPartland: Jazz Pianist: An Overview of a Career
- ^ MacFadyen, J. Tevere (1985) Liner notes to Marian McPartland: Willow Creek And Other Ballads, Concord Jazz Inc.
- ^ Zych, D. (1997) “Marian McPartland: True Devotion”, JazzTimes, vol. 27, no. 8, October, pp. 31–37.
- ^ Balliett, W. (1977), New York Notes: A Journal Of Jazz In The Seventies, New York: Da Capo Press Inc., p. 289.
External links[edit source | editbeta]
- Marian McPartland at the Internet Movie Database
- The Sweet and Lovely Legacy of Marian McPartland
- Marian McPartland’s Official Facebook Page
- Marian McPartland bio
- Piano Jazz: Meet Marian McPartland
- Marian McPartland, Grande Dame of ‘Piano Jazz’
- NPR’s version of Marian McPartland’s biography
- “Marian McPartland Plays Ornette Coleman (and Everything Else!”) by Ted Gioia, Jazz.com.
- “Interview with Marian McPartland” by Arnold Jay Smith, Jazz.com.
- “Marian McPartland, Jazz Pianist: An Overview Of A Musical Career”
- “ETV Radio celebrates 90th birthday of jazz legend Marian McPartland”