arts and culture

Dr. Billy Taylor and Nancy Wilson with Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland with Billy Taylor and Nancy Wilson, New York, 1998
RJ Capak

Dr. Billy Taylor (1921–2010) was a pianist, composer and educator. He dedicated his life to teaching jazz history and was a regular voice heard on NPR, making jazz accessible to a large audience and putting public radio on the cultural map. Brilliant song stylist Nancy Wilson also worked for NPR as host of Jazz Profiles, a companion series to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. This special edition commemorates the 20th anniversary of Piano Jazz in 1999.

Wynton Marsalis and Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland and Wynton Marsalis, New York, 1990
RJ Capak

Wynton Marsalis is a trumpeter, composer, and educator. He is the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and is an active promotor of music to young audiences. Since Marsalis’ debut album in 1982, he has released more than 60 jazz and classical recordings and has earned nine Grammy Awards. In 1997 his oratorio, Blood on the Fields, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first jazz composition ever to do so. In this 1990 Piano Jazz session, Marsalis and McPartland delve into their standard repertoires with “I Cover the Waterfront.”

Peter Cincotti and Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland and Peter Cincotti, Washington, D.C., 2004
SCETV

Peter Cincotti is a pianist, composer, and vocalist who broke onto the music scene at a notably young age. He started learning the piano when he was just a toddler and at seven was invited to play with Harry Connick Jr, after impressing the singer through an impromptu performance during a live concert. At age 18 Cincotti released his eponymous debut album, which reached Number 1 on the Billboard jazz charts, making him the youngest artist ever to do so.

Dizzy Gillespie and Marian McPartland

Jul 18, 2018
Marian McPartland and Dizzy Gillespie, 1985
Mark Vinci

Dizzy Gillespie (1917–1993) was a true musical innovator. Gillespie not only revolutionized 1940s jazz by becoming one of the first inventors of bebop, but he also helped introduce the Afro-Cuban jazz movement through his love of Latin music. With his puffed cheeks and bent trumpet, he is one of the most recognizable faces in the music world. On this Piano Jazz from 1985, the Cheraw, SC native tells McPartland about his induction into the South Carolina Hall of Fame, and the two collaborate on Gillespie’s standard “Night in Tunisia.”

George Shearing and Marian McPartland

Jul 18, 2018
Marian McPartland and George Shearing, New York City, 1980
SCETV

George Shearing (1919–2011) was an internationally acclaimed pianist, arranger, and composer. Born in London, Shearing showed an affinity for music as a child but he did not officially start his career until he moved to the United States in 1947. In just two years he gained worldwide acclaim with the George Shearing Quintet, and the ensemble performed and recorded for nearly three decades. On this 1980 Piano Jazz, Shearing puts his classical influences on display as he plays an interpretation of his hit “Lullaby of Birdland.”

T. S. Monk and Marian McPartland

Jul 18, 2018
Marian McPartland and T. S. Monk, New York, 1995
RJ Capak

Percussionist T. S. Monk was born into the world of jazz, but it wasn’t until his late teens that he dedicated himself to music. His first performance was in 1970 with his father, the legendary pianist Thelonious Monk. Until his father’s passing in 1982, T. S. Monk focused on recording and performing, and by 1986 his family had established the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. On this 1995 Piano Jazz, Monk talks to McPartland about his father’s legacy, and bassist Scott Colley joins them for a trio on the standard “Blue Monk.”

Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland

Jul 17, 2018
Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, New York City, 1978
SCETV

Composer, arranger, and pianist Mary Lou Williams (1910–1981) was essential to the 1930s swing era and a major force in the bebop revolution of the 1940s. Her peers included Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Duke Ellington, and Williams was deeply respected by her colleagues during a time when women musicians struggled to be treated as equals, especially in the jazz world. Today she is remembered as one of the greatest of her generation.

Steve Allen and Marian McPartland

Jul 17, 2018
Marian McPartland and Steve Allen,1988
Vanguard Photography

Steve Allen (1921–2001) became a household name in the 1950s as the first ever host of a late night talk show, which would become The Tonight Show. A legendary comedian and actor, Allen was also a musician and prolific composer, though he never learned to read music. He wrote thousands of songs and won a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. In this Piano Jazz session from 1988, Allen demonstrates his rich harmonics as he solos on one of the compositions he penned when he was still in his teens, a lush ballad called “No New Love.”

Chucho Valdés and Marian McPartland

Jul 16, 2018
Marian McPartland and Chucho Valdés, 2000
RJ Capak

Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés was born into a musical family and began playing as a child. His father was a pianist at the popular nightclub Tropicana, where Valdés met and performed with famous musicians, including Nat King Cole. In 1973 Valdés formed his Afro-Cuban jazz band Irakere, and the group won a 1980 Grammy for Best Latin Recording. On this 2000 Piano Jazz, Valdés tells McPartland about his Latin roots and plays his original “Claudia.”

Bill Crow, Joe Morello, and Marian McPartland: Hickory House Trio

Jul 16, 2018
Marian McPartland with Bill Crow (bass) and Joe Morello (drums), New York, 1991
RJ Capak

Bassist Bill Crow and drummer Joe Morello (1928 – 2011) were members of McPartland’s Hickory House Trio. The group performed together for more than a decade in one of the last 52nd Street jazz clubs in Manhattan. After leaving the trio, Morello and Crow went on to careers performing with Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan, respectively. On this 1991 Piano Jazz, the trio reunites for an hour to reminisce about the 1950s jazz scene and play some favorite tunes from their Hickory House days, including Duke Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light.”

Katherine Escobar / Escobar Photography

It’s a common plot for an opera: an endangered female character awaits rescue from the male lead.  But Ludwig van Beethoven wasn’t generally one to settle for common.

In his opera Fidelio, it is the female protagonist who saves the day. Disguising herself as a prison guard named “Fidelio,” the courageous Leonore rescues her ailing husband, Florestan, from his imprisonment.

Oscar Peterson and Marian McPartland

Jul 13, 2018
Marian McPartland and Oscar Peterson, New York City, 1980
Raymond Hillstrom

Pianist Oscar Peterson (1925–2007) grew up in Montreal, Quebec, where his parents started him with piano lessons as a child. At only fourteen years old, he won a talent contest that landed him on Canada’s national radio network, CBC. After moving to the United States in 1949, he connected with fellow jazz giants such as Dizzy Gillespie and became a favorite musical partner for everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Herbie Hancock. In this Piano Jazz session from 1980, Peterson demonstrates his legendary technique for McPartland.

Stefon Harris and Marian McPartland

Jul 12, 2018
Marian McPartland and Stefon Harris, New York, 2002
RJ Capak

Vibraphonist and composer Stefon Harris has propelled himself to the forefront of the jazz scene over the last two decades, with his career as an educator and performer in full swing. Harris grew up studying and playing classical music, but when he discovered the music of Charlie Parker in college, he decided to pursue jazz.

Barbara Carroll and Marian McPartland

Jul 11, 2018
Marian McPartland and Barbara Carroll, 1991
RJ Capak

Pianist and vocalist Barbara Carroll (1925 – 2017) was a celebrated musician who performed and recorded prolifically over seven decades. After moving to New York in 1947, Carroll launched her career as one of the first female bebop players. For a remarkable 25 years, she played at Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, securing her place in the hearts of Manhattan jazz lovers. On this 1991 Piano Jazz, McPartland exclaims that the two are “survivors of this thing,” in regard to their extensive careers as women musicians.

Charlie Watts and Tim Ries with Marian McPartland

Jul 10, 2018
Marian McPartland with Charlie Watts (drums) and Tim Ries (saxophone), New York, 2006
RJ Capak

Drummer Charlie Watts has been a member of the Rolling Stones for more than five decades. A rock-and-roll icon, Watts started out in the early 60s playing jazz clubs in England. Tim Ries is an accomplished composer, arranger and educator, and he performs on the saxophone both as a sideman and as a soloist. In 2005 he released The Rolling Stones Project, which includes Ries’ interpretations of classic Rolling Stones songs. In Piano Jazz session from 2006, Watt and Ries team up with McPartland to play their own jazz rendition of “Honky Honk Woman.”

Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland

Jul 9, 2018
Marian McPartland with Dave Brubeck, 1984
Vanguard Photography

Pianist and composer Dave Brubeck (1920 – 2012) went beyond the constraints of traditional popular music with his emphasis on polytonality as well as improvised classical counterpoint. Brubeck’s career took off with the debut of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, and until his death at age 91, the visionary composer never slowed down. From “Take Five” to “In Your Own Sweet Way,” many of Brubeck’s compositions became part of the standard jazz repertoire.

Ellen Seeling, Jean Fineberg, Allison Miller, and Marian McPartland

Jul 5, 2018
Ellen Seeling (Trumpet), Marian McPartland, Jean Fineberg (Saxophone) and Allison Miller (Drums), New York City, 2006
RJ Capak

Trumpeter Ellen Seeling grew up surrounded by music. As a child she was torn between the drums and the violin, but her father’s love for jazz trumpet eventually led her to the instrument. The first woman to receive a degree in jazz studies from Indiana University, she moved to New York City in 1975, where her career blossomed. Seeling founded the Montclair Women’s Big Band and has been performing with the group for more than twenty years. On this 2007 Piano Jazz, two of Seeling’s bandmates join her to perform her original composition “Chevere.”

Dudley Moore and Marian McPartland

Jul 3, 2018
Marian McPartland and Dudley Moore, New York, 1983
Vanguard Photography

Dudley Moore (1935 – 2002) was a multitalented entertainer who possessed the abilities to sing, act, compose, and play piano. Moore made his debut in 1965 in comedy sketches with actor Peter Cook before he made his transition into film acting. During his career on screen, Moore fueled his passion for music by writing film scores. In this Piano Jazz from 1983, Moore tells McPartland that Erroll Garner was his earliest and strongest influence, and Garner-inspired themes can be heard when the two improvise on a completely free piece.

Ray Charles and Marian McPartland

Jul 2, 2018
Marian McPartland with Ray Charles, Los Angeles, 1991
Vanguard Photography

Ray Charles (1930 – 2004) is often credited as one of the key developers of modern soul music. Charles cited Nat King Cole as his primary influence and inspiration, and by drawing from rock, jazz, country and gospel, the legendary artist created his unique and much-loved sound. In 1951 Charles rocked the charts with his first R&B hit single, “Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand,” launching a career that spanned more than half a century. On this Piano Jazz from 1991, McPartland asks Charles to join her for a spontaneous blues. The two name the tune “Ray and Marian’s Blues.”

Shari Hutchinson and Marian McPartland

Jun 29, 2018
Marian McPartland and Shari Hutchinson, London Bridge, 1991
SCETV

Producer Shari Hutchinson worked with Marian McPartland for more than three decades, overseeing the run of the series from the early years. When asked about her time spent with the legendary pianist, she said: “I learned so much from her about life and music.” For the 15th season of Piano Jazz, the program traveled to London to record at the BBC. Hutchinson shared how Marian showed her around the city, making stops for such experiences as traditional high tea, and the pair paid a visit to the London Bridge.

Diana Krall and Marian McPartland

Jun 28, 2018
Marian McPartland with Diana Krall, New York City, 1994
RJ Capak

Grammy-award winning artist Diana Krall took the jazz world by storm in the late 90s and within a few years became one of the best-selling jazz artists of her time. After having reached out to Marian for mentorship as a teenager, Krall was just kicking off her career when she was a guest on this 1995 Piano Jazz. She tells McPartland how she got her start by singing and playing with her grandmother. The two have fun with a few duets, and McPartland accompanies Krall on the timeless standard “Body and Soul.”

Bill Evans and Marian McPartland

Jun 27, 2018
Marian McPartland with Bill Evans, New York, 1979
SCETV, with thanks to Brian Dressler Photography

Bill Evans (1929 – 1980) left his mark on the jazz world through his innovative interpretations of the classic jazz repertoire. He got his first taste of jazz through boogie-woogie and blues, and it didn’t take long for his style to grow into the impressionistic sound he is known for today. The renowned musician is credited for having had two great trios, which featured incredible improvisation between members. In this 1979 Piano Jazz, Evans shows his love for solo piano when he plays a rare Ellington piece called “Reflections in D.”

Valerie Capers and Marian McPartland

Jun 26, 2018
Marian McPartland with Valerie Capers, 1983
SCETV

Pianist and composer Dr. Valerie Capers is a gifted performer as well as an award-winning jazz educator. Her family encouraged her interest in music throughout her childhood, and she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Julliard School of Music—the first blind person to ever do so. In this 1983 Piano Jazz session, her first appearance on the show, Capers tells McPartland that she didn’t decide to pursue jazz until later in her life. She demonstrates her skill on Ellington’s classic “Lush Life.”

Clint Eastwood and Marian McPartland

Jun 25, 2018
Marian McPartland with Clint Eastwood, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2003
RJ Capak

Clint Eastwood is widely recognized for his work in the movie industry, but not many people are aware of his passion for jazz. Eastwood has combined his love of the two art forms by purposely including classic jazz compositions in several of his films, particularly in his 1988 motion picture Bird, which features original Charlie Parker recordings. Although he calls himself an aficionado of piano players rather than a pianist himself, Eastwood flies through a blues improvisation with McPartland in this 2004 Piano Jazz session.

Mel Tormé and Marian McPartland

Jun 21, 2018
Marian McPartland with Mel Tormé, 1992
Vanguard

Mel Tormé (1925 – 1999) was a supreme entertainer who worked steadily at his craft for more than half a century, beginning in the 1940s with his hit “Careless Hands.” Tormé was an expert vocalist who contributed several originals to the Great American Songbook. McPartland calls the prolific songwriter “the man of all parts,” considering that the star was also a drummer, pianist, arranger, author, and actor.

Sumi Tonooka and Marian McPartland

Jun 20, 2018
Marian McPartland with Sumi Tonooka, 1992
RJ Capak

Composer and pianist Sumi Tonooka caught the jazz bug at a young age as she listened to her mother’s classic records at home. Early on in her dynamic career, Tonooka studied with giant Mary Lou Williams and she credits much of her style and technique to the prolific composer. In 1985 Tonooka was commissioned by the Japanese American Cultural Association to compose a piece about her mother’s experiences in one of the World War II internment camps, Manzanar.

Les Paul, Marian McPartland, Paul Nowinski and Lou Pallo

Jun 18, 2018
Marian McPartland sits next to guitarist Les Paul, with bassist Paul Nowinski and guitarist Lou Pallo, Avatar Recording Studios, New York, 1999
RJ Capak

Virtuoso guitarist and innovator Les Paul (1915 – 2009) was a supreme contributor to the music world as he is the creator of one of the first electric guitars as well as early multitrack recording technology. He kicked off his career as a country star in the 1920s under the pseudonyms Hot Rod Red and later Rhubarb Red, all the while sitting in with jazz greats Earl Hines and Coleman Hawkins on the side. In this 1999 Piano Jazz session, Paul tells McPartland that he was “torn between jazz and country” and ultimately chose jazz.

Eubie Blake and Marian McPartland

Jun 15, 2018
Marian McPartland with Eubie Blake, New York City, 1979
Karen Mantlo

As one of the last original ragtime pianists, James Herbert “Eubie” Blake (1883 – 1983) was a must-have guest for Piano Jazz in this early session from 1980. Demonstrating his iconic composition “Charleston Rag,” Blake shows that he kept his technique sharp well into his late nineties. Blake tells McPartland how he maintained his chops with two hours of practice a day, and he continued to record and perform until his last professional appearance in 1982, one week before his 99th birthday.

Norah Jones and Marian McPartland

Jun 13, 2018
Marian McPartland and Norah Jones, Manhattan Beach Studios, NYC, 2002
RJ Capak

Vocalist Norah Jones possesses a style that reaches every musical realm, branching out to country, folk, blues and pop. In 2002 the young artist took the jazz scene by storm with the release of her debut album, Come Away with Me. The critically acclaimed record earned five Grammy Awards and resulted in extensive touring. In this 2003 Piano Jazz session, McPartland accompanies Jones as she sings “Don’t Know Why,” which reached number 30 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, earning the status of a new standard.

Shirley Horn and Marian McPartland

May 25, 2018
Marian McPartland and Shirley Horn, New York City, 1995
JR Capak

Pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn (1934 – 2005) possessed a unique vocal style and touch, most evident in her soulful ballads. Among her acclaimed albums is her 1993 tribute to Ray Charles, “Light Out of Darkness.” McPartland named the album as a favorite in this session from 1995, where the Grammy-winning artist delights with her incredible vocal range and faculty on the keys. A performer throughout her life, Horn was a guest three times on Piano Jazz, starting with an early appearance on the show in 1985, when a second phase of her career was just beginning.

Pages