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Rest in piano.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Rest in piano....

Most of you know these notes, I'll bet- at least the opening ones. (Hit the play button halfway down on the right once that window opens.) Somehow, though, I'd never heard the entire piece until just now. The opening riff was heard several times an hour, every week, for many years on NPR stations and Jazz.fm as the siren song of Marian McPartland's long-running radio show Piano Jazz. Until the WBFO merger with our other NPR/PBS Mafia a couple of years ago, 88.7 was one of the stations carrying it, and we ended many a Saturday night with those sounds coming through.

Marian retired from active broadcasting some time ago, and news came today of her passing away yesterday at the age of 95:

Born Margaret Marian Turner, McPartland discovered her love of music at a young age and performed in vaudeville theatres around England, entertaining troops during the war.

After the war she and her new husband, cornetist Jimmy McPartland, made their way to the States, eventually settling in New York City.

Initially McPartland had a tough time breaking into the New York scene but by 1952 had landed a gig at the Hickory House and began establishing herself with the New York musicians.

As Rock & Roll came to prominence in the 60s, McPartland moved from playing and recording, to the lecture circuit, and by the late 60s had started working as a jazz broadcaster, often entertaining pianists who would drop by the studio to chat.

In 1978, what were casual drop-ins, became Piano jazz, the show that McPartland would host for the next 35 years.

We never met her or heard her perform live, but we have a surprising range of connections to her. My sister Donna got to hear her perform in the New York area sometime in the 1960s; I don't remember much more of the story than that, but I'm sure she'll fill me in once she sees this. Likewise, our longtime neighbor Sally got to meet her at some point in the not-too-distant past. Closer to our own generation, our friend Deanna Witkowski got the chance to perform on Piano Jazz back in 2003; she posted this morning about the memory, and of Marian's graciousness during that experience but also even earlier. Deanna interviewed her as part of her grad school thesis, and Marian not only read the finished product but sent her a heartfelt thank you for being included in it.

Like other art forms, jazz is a much different medium today than it was in Marian's heyday. Broader ranges and shorter attention spans make her more extended listens a harder sell and, yet, a greater joy to hear.  She still belonged, though, right up until the end, and her legacy, through her own music and that of the artists she nurtured, will live forever.



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thediva_laments From: thediva_laments Date: August 21st, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, Marian McPartland died. I didn't know till I read this just now. She was a gem.

Thank you for posting this.
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: August 21st, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're very welcome. My sister called after seeing this post to remind me of the circumstances; she not only heard Marian perform (that came later in the 1960s), but also met her and Jimmy at a yacht club on Long Island's south shore with her boyfriend while she was still in high school.

They certainly didn't have the biggest boat in the yard- that belonged to Roy Rogers, and was named Trigger- but they were engaging and kind to these kids. She was "Mrs. McPartland," but her husband was always just "Jimmy."
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