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Jazz with Marian McPartland
Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland
Program Website: http://www.npr.org/programs/pianojazz/
For more than twenty years, legendary pianist Marian McPartland
has welcomed a stellar line-up of jazz artists for conversation and improvisation.
Fans say the show’s intimate style is “like listening in on
a conversation in someone’s living room." A Peabody Award-winning
program, Piano Jazz presents a forum for jazz legends andinfluential
performers as well as up-and-coming talents, who offer dynamic duets and
discuss their lives and music. McPartland has been honored with an NEA
American Jazz Master and received the ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award
and the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award for her contributions to
Helen Merrill’s voice is an instrument that sometimes carries the melody and sometimes complements the improvisational skills of her co-musicians. In this session from 1995, McPartland performs a “Portrait of Helen Merrill.” Merrill joins McPartland to perform songs popularized by Billie Holiday, including Bob Haggart’s “What’s New” and Holiday’s “Don’t Explain.”
Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes
Husband and wife pianists join Mcpartland in this 2008 session, pushing the bounds of the Piano Jazz format to include three pianos in one room. charlap is one of the finest interpreters of American popular song and Rosnes is a modern jazz wizard. They join Marian for a trio of "You and the Night and the Music" and "I'll Remember April."
This broadcast of Piano Jazz is in memory of trumpeter Joe Wilder (February 22, 1922 – May 9, 2014). Wilder had his first professional gig at age nineteen and went on to play with some of the most popular big band orchestras of the day. He continued recording and touring throughout his life and was awarded the Jazz Master Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In this 2001 session, Wilder joins McPartland and bassist Rufus Reid for the Gershwins’ “Lady be Good.”
Hard bop pianist Benny Green was mentored by Walter Bishop Jr. and has appeared on more than 100 recordings with artists such as Betty Carter, Milt Jackson, and Diana Krall. In 1993, Oscar Peterson chose Green to receive the Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. He joined McPartland for Piano Jazz in 2003, demonstrating his swinging style and musical sensitivity on tunes including “What Are Your Doing with the Rest of Your Life?” and “You Make Me Feel So Young.”
In this 1999 edition of Piano Jazz, recorded live at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City, host McPartland welcomes vocalist Cassandra Wilson for an hour of jazz standards. Wilson is known for the enormous range of emotion in her performances. She delights with an array of tunes, joining McPartland and bassist Peter Washington for “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and “Old Devil Moon.”
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove has played with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Mulgrew Miller, and Bobby Watson. His blazing sound, depth of feeling, and joy in playing was evident even from a young age, when he was discovered by Wynton Marsalis at a high school jazz clinic. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, Hargrove joins McPartland for “I Wish I Knew,” and McPartland performs “Threnody.”
Kenny Drew Jr.
This broadcast of Piano Jazz is in memory of pianist Kenny Drew Jr. (June 14, 1958 - August 3, 2014). The son of pianist Kenny Drew, who rose to fame in the fifties and sixties, Kenny Drew Jr. made his own way with a virtuosic career in both jazz and classical. He favored distinct, single-note lines but could also play in a full orchestral style. In this 1992 session, Drew interprets Monk’s “In Walked Bud,” then he and McPartland collaborate on “Falling in Love with You.”
A vital force on the West Coast Jazz scene, Pete Jolly (June 5, 1932 – November 6, 2004) was a pianist and accordionist known for his movie soundtracks and television themes, including Get Smart, Dallas, and M*A*S*H. On this Piano Jazz from 1986, Jolly demonstrates his swinging piano style with a solo on “You, the Night and the Music,” then McPartland joins in on “Barbados.” McPartland solos on “Close Enough for Love,” and the two performers create a rousing finale with a two-person version of “Oleo.”
Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress/vocalist Ruth Brown (January 12, 1928 – November 17, 2006) was one of the pioneers of R&B. Brown also hosted a blues program on NPR called Blues Stage that helped bring wider attention to the genre. On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1993, Brown’s roots in blues, R&B, and jazz are on display as she sings to McPartland’s accompaniment on “Skylark” and “Fine and Mellow.”
As the son of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is continuing the legacy he has inherited by developing his own sound and feeling. In 2012, he released his sixth album, Spirit Fiction. In 2000, he joined McPartland to talk about his family’s musical heritage and his individual approach to music. On this Piano Jazz, Coltrane and McPartland duet on “What is This Thing Called Love?” and “If I Should Lose You.”
Harry Connick Jr.
When Harry Connick Jr. sat down with Marian McPartland in 1991, he was in his twenties and coming off the heels of his successful “Big Band Tour.” He has gone on to become a Grammy-winning recording artist with multiple best-selling albums and a successful acting career. On this Piano Jazz, Connicksings and plays “They Didn’t Believe Me” and joins McPartland for “Stompin at the Savoy.”
Pianist/composer Liz Story is a fascinating, ever-changing musician. She was inspired to pursue music after hearing Bill Evans perform, and her music has been compared to Copeland, Chopin, Debussy, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea. In this 1993 Piano Jazz session, Story plays “My Foolish Heart,” then she and McPartland get together for “All the Things You Are.”
Described by Rex Reed as “America’s greatest male singer,” Mel Tormé (September 13, 1925 – June 5, 1999) was one of the most versatile performers of his day. On this Piano Jazz from 1992, Tormé shares how his classic “The Christmas Song” inspired him to put out his own holiday album. He sings and plays “Too Late Now” and “Walking My Baby Back Home” with McPartland joining in.
British jazz pianist George Shearing (August 13, 1919 – February 14, 2011) was a friend and frequent guest of Marian’s on Piano Jazz. On this special edition from 2001, Shearing joins McPartland to celebrate the holidays in a jazzy way! The two reminisce about seasons gone by and perform both traditional and contemporary holiday tunes, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Away in a Manger,” and “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Michel Petrucciani (December 28, 1962 – January, 6 1999) was one of the greatest French jazz pianists of all time. Born with a genetic disease, he only stood at three feet, but with hands unaffected by his disease, Petrucciani had an extraordinary talent at the keys. He was only twenty-three when he joined McPartland for Piano Jazz. On this 1987 broadcast, Petrucciani plays his own composition, “The Prayer,” then he and McPartland combine their talents on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”