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Marian McPartland, 'Piano Jazz' host, has died
August 21, 2013 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Obit page on NPR "Marian McPartland, who gave the world an intimate, insider's perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation — died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95." - from the lead of the article
posted by randomkeystrike (66 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by cacophony at 12:11 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by tommasz at 12:11 PM on August 21, 2013


Article from 2003 on McPartland
posted by LionIndex at 12:12 PM on August 21, 2013


So for many years -- really, as long as I've been listening to NPR -- I'd been hearing promo spots for her jazz show without thinking much about it besides her somewhat stilted accent (a bit mannered British with a heavy lisp thrown in). Then I randomly ended up hearing a couple of her shows and was impressed by the quality of the music she and her guests created impromptu for the show, and even though I'm not a die-hard jazz listener, I sometimes would go out of my way to listen. Anyhow, here's to her long life making and encouraging great music:

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It's also worth noting she's one of the people in this iconic photo.
posted by aught at 12:12 PM on August 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


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posted by jquinby at 12:14 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by entropicamericana at 12:20 PM on August 21, 2013


. I really liked that show. Just heard a repeat the other day of an early nineties show. I was really impressed with the depth of her musical knowledge (or at least it was way over my head).
posted by octothorpe at 12:20 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


A personal favorite: Alice Coltrane on 'Piano Jazz'
posted by ryanshepard at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The list of artists that appeared on her show is pretty astounding.
posted by octothorpe at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Piano Jazz was a great treat, back when my NPR station carried it.

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posted by Thorzdad at 12:30 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]




she's one of the people in this iconic photo.

That's a good point, one of only three women out of the 57 people pictured. (This page talks more about her and the photo; she was 40 at the time.) Amazing to think she was still broadcasting in her 90s; there's a good chance that McPartland made jazz, her kind at least, palatable for more people than anybody else over the last 35 years.

p.s. This remarkable Gordon Parks photo shows the Great Day survivors in 1996. Now there are only three left: Benny Golson and Horace Silver, both 84, and Sonny Rollins, 82.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


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posted by Mental Wimp at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2013


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(Speaking of Sonny Rollins)
posted by box at 12:42 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by sciencegeek at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by Jahaza at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2013


Sonny Rollins is still alive as of September 2013. September 2013? That makes me happier...
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2013


The episode with Elvis Costello was fantastic and a favorite of mine. She was able to do something that very few jazz musicians can do, and that is conversationally talk about her art in a way that made perfect sense to non-musicians.

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posted by jbickers at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


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Just picked one of her records up at a thrift store yesterday.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2013



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posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 1:07 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by alms at 1:11 PM on August 21, 2013


♪♪♪♪ .
posted by RussHy at 1:19 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by chinesefood at 1:29 PM on August 21, 2013


I first learned about McPartland because of that Elvis Costello episode jbickers mentions. She was clearly one of the best pianists of our lifetimes and you can tell that Costello holds her in high esteem by his tone. Some of his best performances - because you are elevated when you play with a great musician.

I've listened to a number of her other shows and she was always insightful when she spoke and entrancing when she played. We've lost one of our great musicians.

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posted by Joey Michaels at 1:49 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by OHenryPacey at 1:56 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by doctor_negative at 2:02 PM on August 21, 2013


randomkeystrike: Sonny Rollins is still alive as of September 2013. September 2013? That makes me happier...

Still no chance of a Black Flag reunion.
posted by dr_dank at 2:10 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't have the chance to listen to her show. It wasn't available where I live, only the tantalizing ads for it were. She was plainly a good person.

♫ ♪ ♪
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2013


For those of you who don't realize it: "Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland" was unscripted - even down to the song selections.

When she'd say to Alice Coltrane, Elvis Costello, or (one of my personal fave episodes) Norah Jones, "What would you like to play?", she was discovering, right along with the audience, what the next song on the show would be.

Often she'd let the guest start it, or even take the first verse to get the feel of it. On some rare - very rare - occasions she'd sit out, and let the guest have a solo, because (as she admitted) she didn't remember the tune - or because the guest was about to demonstrate something very individual, and Marian wanted to be in the "audience" for it.

Norah herself attested to it, during a tribute show to Marian a few years back. She asked what set list to prepare, and Marian replied, "Oh, just show up, and we'll have fun together."

Almost all of that show's music was completely picked live during the show taping.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:46 PM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


For those of you who don't realize it: "Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland" was unscripted - even down to the song selections.

I find it increasingly difficult to find media of any kind that is truly improvisational. Working without a net -- especially when the results will be broadcast to thousands of listeners -- is one of the greatest challenges a performer of any kind can face. She made it sound easy, and better yet, she let her guests shine on her program.
posted by vverse23 at 2:56 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by hangingbyathread at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by Wordwoman at 4:09 PM on August 21, 2013


One of the great ones. She'll be missed.
posted by deliciae at 4:39 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by redbeard at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2013


Those programs were so wonderful!
posted by spbmp at 4:56 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by newdaddy at 5:00 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by MikeWarot at 5:02 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by trunk muffins at 5:17 PM on August 21, 2013


What a giant figure she was. Living history.
posted by thelonius at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2013


I loved her show.

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posted by Obscure Reference at 5:25 PM on August 21, 2013


A Great Day in Harlem previously on MeFi (I can't believe I didn't comment in that thread).

Goodbye, Marian.
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posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on August 21, 2013


I worked with her and a number of other pianists in a NYC tribute concert in 2000. She was one of the nicest people I ever met. Very encouraging and humble and a true artist. She is sorely missed.


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posted by Seekerofsplendor at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love her show, even though it's been doing old shows for a while now, I keep listening, because even the episodes I've heard before bring new things every time I hear them.

95 was is really a good run. I'm glad she's left such a legacy. She brightened the world for many years, and will continue to as long as people keep discovering her.

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posted by hippybear at 5:51 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by dawkins_7 at 5:51 PM on August 21, 2013


Such a unique and interesting show and person.

I first heard her show many years ago. I wasn’t a Jazz fan, but the more I listened the more I liked it, and over the years have become a Jazz fan. For a long time I knew her as the host of some NPR show, but after a while I realized what an interesting and talented person she was.
posted by bongo_x at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2013


One of her great talents was the ability to get musicians to talk about their music in a real way. Not just the usual "where are you playing next," "When is your album coming out." I heard her interview a man who I had played with for a couple of years and he talked to her about his music more than he had had ever talked to me.
posted by charlesminus at 7:00 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by Otherwise at 7:09 PM on August 21, 2013


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posted by pianoblack at 7:14 PM on August 21, 2013


Loved her show, her stories, her love of the craft.


posted by Mister_A at 7:23 PM on August 21, 2013


I loved her show - I learned so much every time and she elicited such amazing discussions from her guests. Her ability to just jump in and play off the cuff with whoever was on was truly impressive. One of the greats for sure!
posted by leslies at 8:46 PM on August 21, 2013


I am so happy I got to see her perform live so many times and that I got to meet her. She was a wonderfully warm person, an unparalleled font of musical knowledge, and had a sense of humor that would not quit. I loved her radio show and played her records on my own radio show in college.

She was one of a kind and there'll never be another like her.

Rest easy, Dame Marian.
posted by phoebus at 9:28 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by 4ster at 9:48 PM on August 21, 2013


I used to drop everything and listen to her show even though I didn't like jazz all that well at the time, because there was a quality of brilliance in the way she used language that I found entrancing.

It would be easy enough to guess it was something jazz-like, I suppose, but I should have enjoyed jazz more in that case, I'd think.

I'll have to listen to some of her archives.
posted by jamjam at 10:13 PM on August 21, 2013


A remarkable talent, and model of long, full life. I don't even care for jazz but loved her show.
posted by LarryC at 10:13 PM on August 21, 2013


I met her nearly 20 years ago, she was doing an interview at our college's radio station in promotion of a show the next night. I didn't know who she was at the time, but I was just getting started in jazz and was writing a sr. paper on female jazz musicians. A wise acquaintance told me I needed to get myself down to the station. I did and somehow ended up on the guest list for the next nights show. At the show I slipped a note to her asking if I could interview her for my paper. She called me the next day and we talked for a long time and she mailed me a book of transcriptions. She was so warm, and in hindsight probably very, very patient with the young me.

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posted by snowymorninblues at 10:44 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by From Bklyn at 11:28 PM on August 21, 2013


Great lady, great life. Go well.
posted by Wolof at 12:38 AM on August 22, 2013


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posted by Vibrissae at 12:39 AM on August 22, 2013


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posted by kadonoishi at 2:07 AM on August 22, 2013


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posted by sammyo at 5:28 AM on August 22, 2013



posted by Gelatin at 5:35 AM on August 22, 2013


WKCR is playing her recordings exclusively from 6 AM to 6 PM Thursday Aug 22.
posted by Jode at 8:15 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Jode. Just switched my radio dial.

And by "radio dial," I mean, pressed some buttons on my cell phone. Strange times.
posted by Jahaza at 11:27 AM on August 22, 2013


I missed most of the rebroadcast of an interview she did with Bob Edwards this morning, as I'm furiously trying to learn the first three bars of Kaleidoscope... or at least play it satisfactorily enough to ring in one last Sunday noon, with those swirling arpeggios. Piano Jazz hasn't been broadcast in Chicago for over 10 years, so I haven't heard it for a long time. But in my mind's ear, she made this sound so fluid and articulated, I'm struggling mightily to even begin to imitate her.
She inspired me, and countless others for so long, all I can say is brava, and thank you for leading such a worthy and elegant life.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2013


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