Piano Jazz

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, the longest running jazz program on NPR, is produced by South Carolina ETV Radio.

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.

Marcia Ball
Mary Bruton

Pianist, vocalist, and songwriter Marcia Ball brings together Texas blues with Louisiana flavors, melding boogie-woogie, zydeco, and Swamp Rock. Influenced by artists of the region, such as Janis Joplin, Ball first came to the blues as a child by listening to Etta James and learned the piano through a mix of formal and informal lessons. On this 1997 Piano Jazz, Ball demonstrates her unique sound with “Crawfishin’” and her original “That’s Enough of That.” McPartland joins for a dual-piano rendition of “Woke Up Screaming.”

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.

Martin Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli and Marian McPartland

Jun 12, 2018
Marian McPartland with John Pizzarelli and Martin Pizzarelli, Avatar Recording Studios, NYC, 2001
RJ Capak

John Pizzarelli began playing at an early age with the help of his jazz guitarist father and teacher, Bucky Pizzarelli. The young musician had the opportunity to play with many outstanding musicians throughout his childhood and teen years, giving him a solid understanding of jazz. In the 1990s John and his brother Martin Pizzarelli toured as part of a trio that opened for Frank Sinatra. In this 2001 session, McPartland asks the brothers to play “It's Only A Paper Moon,” which was made famous by the legendary crooner. “Only if you play it with us,” John replies.

Michael Feinstein and Marian McPartland

Jun 11, 2018
Marian McPartland with Michael Feinstein, 1988
Vanguard Photography

When pianist and vocalist Michael Feinstein was a guest on Piano Jazz in 1988, his career was just beginning to take off. The legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin had hired the young musician to archive records and memorabilia that belonged to both Ira and his younger brother George, and Feinstein has become recognized as the ambassador of The Great American Songbook.

Geri Allen
Rob Davidson

One year ago this month, the music world lost Geri Allen, a highly regarded and influential pianist, composer, and educator. Allen (June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017) died of cancer at age 60. A vital contributor to contemporary jazz, she was known for uniting disparate styles of jazz, and her style found its roots everywhere from Motown and James Brown to the music of Fats Waller and Thelonious Monk. In 2008, on her third appearance on Piano Jazz, Allen and McPartland perform a spontaneous composition. Allen solos on originals, including “Brilliant Veracity.”

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Marian McPartland

Jun 8, 2018
Dee Dee Bridgewater and Marian McPartland, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2003
RJ Capak

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater has been on the jazz scene for nearly four decades. After getting her start with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, she honed her talent and headed to Broadway in 1975, where her performance in The Wiz was honored with a Tony Award. As a returning guest to Piano Jazz, Bridgewater was no stranger to public radio: for more than twenty years, she hosted the NPR series JazzSet.

Gary Burton and Marian McPartland

Jun 7, 2018
Marian McPartland with Gary Burton, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2004
RJ Capak

Self-taught on the vibraphone, Gary Burton is known for his exceptional four-mallet technique, which allows him to sound like multiple players at once. He was mentored by jazz greats such as Joe Morello and Stan Getz, and Burton later continued his career by becoming an influential jazz educator himself. On this 2004 edition of Piano Jazz, Burton reminds McPartland that she was instrumental in getting him his first fulltime job, playing with George Shearing at nineteen.

Artist site: http://www.garyburton.com/

Elvis Costello and Marian McPartland

Jun 6, 2018
Marian McPartland with Elvis Costello, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2003
RJ Capak

Elvis Costello made a name for himself as a rock and punk icon. A prolific and influential songwriter, his career took off in the late ’70s with his critically acclaimed record My Aim is True. On this 2003 Piano Jazz, he tells his friend Marian McPartland how he crossed over into other genres, from penning his own jazz to composing for film and opera.

Rosemary Clooney and Marian McPartland

Jun 5, 2018
Marian McPartland with Rosemary Clooney, 1991
RJ Capak

The legendary Rosemary Clooney (1928 – 2002) sang with a simplicity and honesty that became her trademark. As one of the great interpreters of popular song, she demonstrated her understanding of lyrics through her sure and steady vocal delivery. Clooney first rose to fame in the 1950’s with the overnight success of “Come on-a My House.” In this 1992 Piano Jazz session, McPartland and Clooney talk about her legacy as a jazz artist and the second phase of her career. “I just think you're better than ever,” McPartland remarks.

Roy Haynes
thekurlandagency.com

Roy Haynes is one of the greatest living jazz drummers of a generation, with a career spanning seven decades. In 2016 he joined Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing at age 91. He was McPartland’s guest for this 1996 Piano Jazz session. He reminisces with McPartland about the 1940s Chicago jazz scene and the 1950s Boston scene. Bassist Christian McBride joins them for Miles Davis’ “So What,” and Haynes solos on “Shades of Senegal.”

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Jackie King, Willie Nelson, Marian McPartland and Duke Marcos, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2001
RJ Capak

Vocalist Willie Nelson and guitarist Jackie King (1945 – 2016) were friends for decades, making up one of the most recognizable duos in the music world. From co-writing songs to creating record labels, the two friends played major roles in each other’s careers and lives. Their Piano Jazz session was one of the most memorable for listeners and show staff alike. Longtime mastering engineer Duke Marcos recorded the session, and show regular Gary Mazzaroppi provided bass for a jazzy set of standards and Nelson/King originals.

Christian McBride and Marian McPartland

May 31, 2018
Marian McPartland and Christian McBride, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2001
RJ Capak

Christian McBride is considered one of the premier bassists of his generation. The Grammy-winning artist is a celebrated composer, also known for adding a modern touch to traditional jazz standards. A frequent sideman on Piano Jazz, he first played on the show in 1992 and was a guest himself in this 2001 session. McBride has dedicated his time to education in addition to performing as a bandleader and sideman on hundreds of studio recordings.

Marian McPartland and Eldar Djangirov

May 29, 2018
Marian McPartland and Eldar Djangirov, Avatar Studios, New York City, 1999
RJ Capak

Eldar Djangirov was the youngest guest ever to appear on Piano Jazz. Only twelve at the time, the young pianist already possessed an impressive repertoire along with confidence that was evident both in his personality and in his playing. His prodigious technique blew McPartland and Piano Jazz listeners away, and he was a guest again in 2005 as he transitioned into his career as an adult. He is a regular at major jazz festivals, has toured throughout the world, and has made appearances on national television, including performing at the Grammy Awards.

Ben Sidran
bensidran.com

Ben Sidran is not only a nationally respected jazz composer, pianist, and song stylist, he is also a scholar, radio/TV producer, and jazz writer. When he was a guest on Piano Jazz in 1989, NPR listeners often heard his insightful commentary on All Things Considered as well as his own program Sidran on Record, which began in 1981. In this session Sidran duets with McPartland on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and sings originals, including “Get to the Point” and “Mitsubishi Boy.”

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.

Alicia Keys and Marian McPartland

May 24, 2018
Marian McPartland and Alicia Keys, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2003
RJ Capak

Only 22 at the time of her appearance on the show, pianist, composer and vocalist Alicia Keys was already developing her own musical identity. When McPartland asked what she would call her musical style, Keys said she wouldn’t call it anything. “But I do think that it would be, you know, heart music,” she said, contemplating the question. “It’s music from my heart and it’s music from my soul.” Her honest and passionate sound was just beginning to take the music world by storm, as she began her quick ascent to stardom in the years that followed.

Tony Bennett and Marian McPartland

May 23, 2018
Tony Bennett and Marian McPartland, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2004.
RJ Capak

Vocalist Tony Bennett is no stranger to the American Popular Songbook. The world-renowned musician is known for his unfaltering dedication to excellence and his ability to connect to audiences of all generations. The returning Piano Jazz guest dives into his vast repertoire of swinging jazz standards for McPartland and her listeners on this 2004 episode.

Jimmy McPartland and Marian McPartland

May 22, 2018
 Jimmy McPartland and Marian McPartland, 1989
Ebet Roberts

In this 1989 session, jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland (1907 – 1991) treats listeners to a firsthand account of his outstanding musical career. Marian McPartland introduces him as “a gentleman I know quite well,” and their longtime relationship speaks for itself as they reminisce about the early days. Married after meeting in Belgium during World War II, Jimmy was in part responsible for introducing a pianist then known as Marian Margaret Turner to the American jazz scene.

In Honor of Marian McPartland

May 21, 2018
Marian McPartland, host of "Piano Jazz," in 2000.
Elizabeth Annas

In the spring of 2018, South Carolina Public Radio unveiled an exhibit of photos taken during recording session for Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. This year marks the centennial of host Marian McPartland (March 20, 1918 - August 20, 2013) and in her honor we present a series of 40+ minicasts (mini-podcasts) that capture the essence of the program and correspond with the photos on display.

Barbara Cook at the 120th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall gala, MOMA, New York City. (April 12th 2011)
Joella Marano [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

This week Piano Jazz remembers Barbara Cook (1927 – August 8, 2017), the Tony and Grammy Award-winning lyric soprano who was a favorite of audiences around the world. She was a star on Broadway as an ingénue and became a staple of the New York cabaret scene in the later years of her prolific career. She was McPartland’s guest in 1998. Joined by her longtime musical collaborator and accompanist Wally Harper, Cook delights host McPartland with her rendition of “It Might as Well Be Spring.” McPartland returns the favor with her solo of “Plain and Fancy.”

Harry "Sweets" Edison
Lionel DeCoster [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Harry "Sweets" Edison (1915 – 1999) was a legendary stylist of jazz trumpet. From his days as a soloist in the Count Basie Band to his time as a studio musician for the likes of Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald, he was known for the sweet, muted tones that were his namesake. On this Piano Jazz, originally broadcast just months before he passed away in 1999, Edison joins McPartland and bassist Andy Simpkins for “Dejection Blues” and “No Greater Love,” along with one of his originals, “Centerpiece.”

Virginia Mayhew
centerstage.conn-selmer.com

Saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Virginia Mayhew has appeared in major New York jazz venues, from the Blue Note to Carnegie Hall, toured internationally, and twice represented the US as a Jazz Ambassador. She is also an active jazz educator and founded the Greenwich House Music School Jazz Workshop. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, Mayhew and McPartland join forces to perform “All the Things You Are” and “Body and Soul.” They close the hour with a free piece, improvised live in the studio.

Don Friedman
donfriedman.net

In honor of the birthday of Don Friedman (May 4, 1935 – June 30, 2016), Piano Jazz presents this broadcast from 1996. Although Friedman first studied classical piano, he fell in love with the voice of jazz and performed with jazz greats such as Chet Baker and Buddy DeFranco. In this session, Friedman demonstrates his unique sound on a solo of his “Waltz for Marilyn.” He and McPartland duet in “Stella by Starlight,” and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi joins for “How Deep is the Ocean.”

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Eliane Elias
elianeelias.com

Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist Elaine Elias grew up with an affinity for both the music of her home country as well as American jazz. She got her start performing with two renowned Brazilian artists, singer-songwriter Toquinho and poet Vinicius de Moraes, before moving to New York in the 1980s, where she took the American jazz scene by storm. She was McPartland’s guest for the first time in this 1988 Piano Jazz session. Elias plays a beautiful arrangement of “Darn that Dream” and teams up with McPartland for “Falling in Love with Love.”

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
SC Public Radio

Pianist and vocalist Cleo Brown (1909 – 1995) was one of the early innovators of the boogie-woogie style and the first female instrumentalist to be named an NEA Jazz Master. She retired from performing in the 1950s and focused her attention on religious music, bringing her gifted voice and strong left hand to gospel tunes. On this 1985 Piano Jazz, Brown makes a rare appearance to perform her greatest hit, “Pinetop’s Boogie-Woogie,” and to recall the style’s heyday in the 1930s. She delights McPartland with a duet version of “A Closer Walk with Thee.”

Nicholas Payton
nicholaspayton.com

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has been hailed as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. A native of New Orleans, Payton learned the art of improvisation from Wynton Marsalis and as a teen performed with the late trumpet master Clark Terry. A young virtuoso, he was in his twenties when he sat down with McPartland for this 1998 Piano Jazz session. Bassist Ray Drummond joins Payton and McPartland for a trio set, including the standard “Four” and an original improvised tune, “Payton’s Other Place Blues.”

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