It was a great honor to perform with Marian McPartland in 1981 with my university jazz ensemble. The jazz pianist and host of NPR’s Piano Jazz was invited to perform for the Gorell Recital Hall Inaugural Series at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on November 14, 1981. We had a rehearsal earlier in the day which included a number of her original jazz compositions. She was the nicest and most pleasant artist I have ever worked with and very charming with her proper British accent. We didn’t have just a rehearsal but a lesson in professionalism, musicianship, and attitude. That night we performed the first half of the concert with her and she performed the second half in trio. Her original music showed her personality; feminine, sweet and emotional, but intelligent.
Facts and Accomplishments:
- Born Margaret Marian Turner on 20 March 1918 Slough, South East England, United Kingdom.
- While performing in a Vaudeville act she took the stage name Marion Page.
- She met her future husband, coronetest Jimmy McPartland, while in the USO during WWII after he asked her to play in his sextet for the troops and they married in 1945.
- They moved to Chicago in 1946, Jimmy’s home town, and she performed in various groups with him.
- In 1950 they moved to New York City and she formed with her first trio.
- She performed at a 54th street club called The Embers and Leonard Feather’s review said: “Oh, she’ll never make it: she’s English, white and a woman.”
- She and Jimmy divorced in 1967 but stayed friends and continued to perform together. They remarried in 1991 shortly before his death.
- She was active in jazz education starting from the 1960´s for the rest of her life.
- She also wrote reviews for Down Beat magazine and had various radio shows that led to her long time NPR Piano Jazz series that ran from 1979 to 2011 and had more than 700 episodes.
- She received many awards and honorary degrees as well numerous recordings and in 2010 was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
- She is immortalized with many other jazz legends on the photograph “A Great Day in Harlem” and “A Great Day in Harlem Survivors”
My experience meeting and performing with this jazz legend was an inspiration to me and my music for life as well as many generations of musicians. I was heart broken when Marian McPartland died on August 20, 2013 at 95 years old. Her interviews on NPR’s Piano Jazz are being rebroadcast and some are available on CD.
For further reading on article I have published about the arts:
My Musical Performance With Ray Charles
Mel Blanc: My Experience Meeting This Voice Actor Legend
Pop Music Studio and Live Performance Fakes: My Experience
Pop Music Sales Continue to Decline: Theories and Explanations