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INTERVIEWS

Marian McPartland: Living Through the History

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Marian McPartland, whose personal artistic history is deeply entwined with that of jazz, continues writing, touring and educating. Following her muse, she has encountered a who's who of jazz while leaving her own indelible mark on the music. Her radio program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, is the longest running show on National Public Radio, and she continues to tape new episodes.

At the age of 91 she's still going strong with Piano Jazz, as well as periodic performances and composing new music, including the ambitious symphonic piece, “A Portrait of Rachel Carson." Chapter Index ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland: Twilight World

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Jazz icon Marian McPartland turned 90 years young in March, 2008, and the special occasion produced an all-star party at Dizzy's Club in New York. National Public Radio has made some of the performance available online as part of the legendary pianist's weekly radio series Piano Jazz, an institution since 1979. As if 2008 couldn't be more productive for McPartland, she also recorded a new trio set for Concord, Twilight World. Joined by Gary Mazzaroppi (bass) and Glenn Davis (drums), McPartland delivers a low-key, slightly melancholy program, which is to be expected from a woman her age. That shouldn't suggest ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland: Twilight World

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Marian McPartland can be described on one word: gracious. Listeners have been treated to weekly installments of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, on US National Public Radio, for the past twenty-nine years, experiencing firsthand her graciousness in her light but stubborn Berkshire accent, her unmatched interview style, and, above all, her gin-crystalline pianism. That would be impressive enough if one were not to consider the fact that McPartland is the living corporate memory of jazz.

Marian McPartland celebrates her ninetieth birthday on March 20, 2008. She has been performing since age fifteen, professionally since age twenty-five. In 1944, she ...

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with Frank Zappa

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Although many fans of Marian McPartland's long running NPR series heard former Frank Zappa sideman George Duke's guest appearance on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, few are likely to be aware of Zappa's own visit to the program, which took place in early 1988, just prior to the start of what would be his final tour. McPartland's interest in Zappa developed from conversations with a number of jazz musicians who had played with him, while the guitarist's familiarity with jazz helped to make things work. At times Zappa's sarcastic replies to her interview questions threaten to befuddle her (but never do), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Medeski And Marian McPartland: Piano Jazz

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The matchup is so unusual that it's alluring before a word is spoken or a note played: Marian McPartland, 85, the straight-laced matronly host of public radio's Piano Jazz spending an hour with John Medeski, 40, perhaps the most recognizable pioneer of modern acid jazz as one third of Medeski, Martin and Wood. She plays an acoustic piano; he has forty to fifty keyboards and considers them all essential. Of the fifteen Piano Jazz albums released to date, featuring guests ranging from Oscar Peterson to Bruce Hornsby, this seems the oddest meeting of the minds.

But it works, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland & Teddy Wilson: Piano Jazz

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Recorded in 1978 for Marian McPartland's radio program, this performance and conversation brings two great pianists together to reminisce and to talk about their careers as performers, scholars, and dedicated lovers of the art of jazz.Together, they uncover Teddy Wilson's biography piece by piece. It turns out Wilson was an early influence for McPartland from the time she was a teenager in England, listening to his recordings with Benny Goodman. As pianists, they discuss keyboard reach, accompanying singers, big band participation, chord substitution, improvisation versus note for note transcriptions, essential practice habits, warming up, mental preparation, ergonomics, and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Marian McPartland: Piano Jazz with Teddy Wilson & Lionel Hampton

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By Chris DiGirolamo

Over 25 years ago South Carolina Educational Radio gave us Marian McPartland's “Piano Jazz , the long-running public radio program in which McPartland invites guest artists into her studio for candid one-on-one chats about music. Over 500 programs later we continue to be blessed with releases from some of the select sessions, such as the two recently released standout broadcasts: McPartland with the great Teddy Wilson and with the legendary Lionel Hampton. To listen to these sessions is having a couch seat in these celebrated conversations that McPartland conducted.

Marian McPartland Piano Jazz with Teddy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland & Friends: 85 Candles - Live in New York

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As might be expected, this is a quite uneven collection, capturing the festive occasion that was Marian McPartland's 85th birthday party. There are no truly “low" points, but a few are inessential. Norah Jones reprises Hoagy Carmichael's “The Nearness of You," the single standard from her gold record “Come Away with Me" (Karrin Allyson, despite having vocal difficulties on this date, proves more engaging with her reading of McPartland's “Twilight World"). Both McPartland and the great (always underrated) Billy Taylor have some memory lapses and moments of indecision but cover well (nevertheless, pianist Bill Charlap proves to be critical to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland & Friends: 85 Candles - Live in New York

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Pianist Marian McPartland has made a boatload of friends during her many years in jazz. Many of them turned out for her 85th birthday soirée at New York's Birdland club two years ago. That's right, the grand dame of jazz is now 87! Fortunately for jazz history buffs and McPartland fans alike, a large number of them took active roles in the four-hour midtown bash as performers. Some took the stage with Dame Marian to mix it up musically, while others performed tributes as she listened on this special wide-ranging night.The guest list included singers Norah Jones, Jackie ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland & Friends: 85 Candles: Live in New York

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On the day after Marian McPartland turned 85, this large group of her jazz friends got together at Birdland in New York to celebrate with her. She played piano with them in an endearing program of love songs that belie their affection for each other. Everybody loves Marian McPartland and respects her for her many accomplishments.

Concord's 2-CD set captures this event in detail. It has aired on NPR several times. McPartland enjoyed the get-together. Of the evening's effect on her, she remarked, “It was wonderful having all these people at a party and then getting to play ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland and Lionel Hampton: Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with Lionel Hampton

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For over twenty years, jazz pianist Marian McPartland has hosted NPR's Piano Jazz, a radio broadcast that showcases some of the most important artists in jazz history. Piano Jazz not only presents McPartland's piano playing along with the music of jazz greats like Bill Evans and Dizzy Gillespie, but it also provides a forum for her to engage in informative and delightful conversation with guest artists about their lives in the colorful world of jazz.

On Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz show with guest Lionel Hampton, the well-known vibraphonist discusses his milestones in jazz, from backing up Louis Armstrong (where the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland: Windows

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Windows is a combined CD reissue of two out-of-print albums recorded by pianist Marian McPartland in 1979. Disc one, originally released as Portrait of Marian McPartland, is a studio trio recording with Brian Torff (bass) and Jake Hanna (drums) with the addition of the immensely talented Jerry Dodgion. It’s simply a great set. The trio plays an appealing mix of standards and originals with warmth, style and intimacy. Dodgion’s flute solo on the McPartland original “Time and Time Again” is worth the price of the entire set. All the players clearly place a high value on what ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marian McPartland: Piano Jazz with Mary Lou Williams

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Pianist and world treasure Marian McPartland, who received a NARAS Trustees Award at this year’s Grammy Awards, has hosted her radio show Piano Jazz for about a quarter century. The Jazz Alliance label has captured a few of these jewels on CD, including the wonderful premiere featuring the very underappreciated pianist, arranger and composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981). From the moment McPartland gushes “Mary Lou!” the listener is in for a special treat: two jazz legends and good friends, performing and talking about what they love. The disc opens with Williams, along with bassist Ronnie Boykins (who ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Marian McPartland in Huntsville, Alabama, February 27, 2004

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Still going strong at 85, Marian McPartland hardly coasts her way through a concert, playing a predictable set. She does have her favorite quips, quoting Lawrence Welk’s insistence on introducing Billy Strayhorn’s best known composition as “Take a Train," or dedicating Chick Corea’s “Windows" to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, but her performances always contain (as Whitney Balliett describes memorable jazz) “the sound of surprise."

Two favorite collaborators from Chicago, bassist Jim Cox and drummer Charles Braugham, accompanied her during her concert at the Von Braun Center-Concert Hall in Huntsville, Alabama. The piano provided by Baldwin was not up ...



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