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Marian McPartland - Jazz Pianist Extraordinaire

Updated on August 23, 2013

Marian McPartland - A Jazz Legend

Saddened to hear about Marian McPartland's passing. She was an amazing jazz pianist and I spent many hours listening to her "Piano Jazz" programs. She influenced me in many ways and snippets of her arrangements creep into my playing frequently. I first saw her on a PBS special Wolftrap concert where she appeared with George Shearing, Eubie Blake, and another guy. She played "Emily", "Ambience" and two or three other tunes and I was instantly hooked. I loved the way she talked, and her dry sense of humor. I will definitely miss her. Til later, Marian.....:)

Three reasons to love Marian McPartland

1. Her quick wit and sense of humor.

2. Her wonderful lilting voice.

3. Her amazingly creative improvisations.

Marian and Norah Jones
Marian and Norah Jones

Marian In Depth

A Bio from NPR

Jazz legend Marian McPartland continues to showcase the world's top musicians on NPR's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz.

Born Margaret Marian Turner in 1918 in Windsor, England, Marian began to teach herself Chopin waltzes on the piano by ear when she was only three years old. She later pursued classical training at London's Guildhall School of Music before joining a four-piano vaudeville act, traveling throughout Europe during World War II to entertain the Allied troops.

While on tour in Belgium, she met and began to perform with her future husband, famed Chicago cornetist Jimmy McPartland (left). In the U.S. after the war, McPartland performed for a brief time with her husband's Dixieland quintet. But she heard the call of bebop and began to head in other musical directions.

McPartland formed her own trio and landed a two-week stint at the renowned Hickory House in New York City. With her ability to gently shepherd a poignant ballad, to swing with real power, and to stay ahead of new developments in jazz, McPartland turned those two weeks at the Hickory House into an eight-year residency. It became a gathering place for jazz colleagues such as Oscar Peterson, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington.

After recording for several existing labels - including over 50 albums with Concord - McPartland founded her own imprint, Halcyon Records. Artists who have recorded on the Halcyon label include pianists Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, and Dave McKenna. McPartland's composing has not escaped notice either, and her material has been recorded by Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee, among others.

The long list of honors bestowed upon McPartland and the show include, a George Foster Peabody Award, the Gracie Allen Award given by American Women in Radio and Television, the National Music Council's American Eagle Award, and a Grammy TrusteeÂs Award for lifetime achievement. After nearly 28 years as host of Piano Jazz, Marian will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in late 2007. She has received honorary degrees from Hamilton, Union, and Bates Colleges, Bowling Green University, and the University of South Carolina.

Her books include The Artistry of Marian McPartland, a collection of transcriptions released by Columbia Pictures Publications, and Marian McPartlandÂs Jazz World: All in Good Time, a collection of McPartlandÂs jazz profiles published by the University of Illinois Press.

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Recent News as of 09/26/2011

Over the course of her 31 years hosting Piano Jazz, her popular NPR program, pianist Marian McPartland has presented, interviewed, and played with an staggering array of musicians.

Initially devoted exclusively to dialogues with the best and brightest of her fellow jazz pianists-early guests included (and this is a short list) Mary Lou Williams, Eubie Blake, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Billy Taylor, Oscar Peterson, and George Shearing-McPartland later broadened her scope, including improvisers across the instrumental spectrum and a cohort of world-class singers, famous and obscure, including Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Esperanza Spaulding.

Now 93 and afflicted with osteoporosis in recent years, McPartland has recently used guest hosts-pianists Bill Charlap and John Weber among them-to guest-host new segments and presented material from the Piano Jazz archives, which number over 700 shows. Yesterday, South Carolina ETV Radio, which produces the popular show (its long list of honors include a 1983 George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting and a 2001 "Gracie" from American Women in Radio and Television), officially confirmed that McPartland, who remains as artistic director, will no longer generate or host new programs.

Two 13-part spinoffs will ensue. One, which launches in January and is hosted by Webster, will feature jazz artists; the other, which launches in in April and is hosted by Michael Feinstein, is devoted to the Great American Songbook.

Vote for your favorite Marian McPartland stuff

Twilight World
Twilight World

Concord Jazz is proud to present Twilight World, by jazz legend Marian McPartland. Twenty-one albums in 29 years at one label is a feat unto itself - when combined with 29 years at the helm of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, the longest running cultural program on NPR, you are marking an extraordinary achievement in jazz history. This auspicious date precedes by nine days the 90th birthday of the incomparable pianist and award-winning radio host, whose legacy of achievement and advocacy on behalf of up-and-coming artists has long established her as an invaluable figure in modern culture. Recorded with her longtime associates, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Glenn Davis, Twilight World is a supreme addition to a catalog already rich with historically and musically significant recordings. Mixing familiar standards and original material, Twilight World exemplifies the classic values of interpretive performance, in which McPartland demonstrates the elusive art of serving the song through improvisation with her unique combination of feeling, invention, and experience. Pianist and frequent Piano Jazz guest Bill Charlap has said that, "MM is a harmonic genius. Her singular musical voice encompasses the past, present and future of jazz." Her facile touch is present throughout this sumptuous ballad-centric program. "I'm so happy to have done this album," she says. "It's nice to have something you're this happy with at this stage of life."

Marian Mcpartland Portraits Advanced Piano Solos
Marian Mcpartland Portraits Advanced Piano Solos

Jazz great Marian McPartland has written and arranged 23 portraits of 23 of the most prominent jazz performers of our time. Some of the portraits are of, Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Shaffer, Dizzy Gillespie, Ruth Loredo, Marcia Ball, Chick Corea, Bud Powell and Dudley Moore. 


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Shout Out For Marian McPartland!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am always looking out for different types and artist when it comes to music. I like listening to it when I draw. Thank you for suggesting a new artist