Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Marian McPartland: A life of Jazz

I came across this video today when looking at the limited youtube videos that are available for Marian McPartland. Hearing the Marian McPartland trio live at the Chicago Jazz Showcase back in about 1974 was one of the final influences that led me to pursue more seriously the jazz side of my musical tastes. This was a lady who played like a man...and while many people look at me cross eyed when I say this...I can usually tell by just listening to a pianist if they are male or female. There is a physicality to performing on grand piano that shows through in the sound and technique. Of course there are exceptions, and Marian is one of them.

I won't go into Marian's whole history as you can read a good synopsis of it HERE on wikipedia. Yet, the main things I take away from her life story is her consistency to her own style and tastes while still taking jazz to more mainstream people than probably any other jazz performer in history. Her public radio program "Piano Jazz" on National Public Radio is the longest running cultural program (since 1978) and she continues to do it in her 90s! Her analytic and interpersonal discourse with most of the significant jazz pianists of this era is unmatched in revealing the devotion, passion and understanding required to be a great jazz pianist.

I will never reach Marian's musical level in this lifetime...but I can die trying.

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