"I first heard her on records when I was living in England," McPartland remembers. "I was fascinated by her playing classical piano with a jazz feeling, and I would try to do that at the piano.
"She played some wonderful Duke Ellington tunes on the show: 'All Too Soon' and 'Do Nothing 'Til You Hear from Me.' She had both a wonderful touch and a strong, swinging feeling," McPartland says. "She was all I could wish for as a guest."
Hazel Scott was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1920. She began to play piano around the age of 3 and was soon recognized as a child prodigy. When Scott was 4, her family moved to New York City; by her 8th birthday, she was performing in the city and had received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.
Scott's father died in 1932. That same year, she appeared at the Apollo Theater, where her mother, Alma Long Scott, was playing saxophone in the house band. She began to tour with her mother's group shortly thereafter. She also made her first appearance at Carnegie Hall, playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23.
Scott was playing regular nightclub gigs by age 15, started her own radio show the following year and performed in her first Broadway revue when she was 18. Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday were family friends who visited the Scott home regularly, and Tatum and Wilson were strong musical influences as Scott developed her own jazz technique.
Scott continued to work on Broadway and in clubs in the 1940s, made another appearance at Carnegie Hall and found work in a number of musical motion pictures. In 1945, she married Adam Clayton Powell, whom she divorced in 1956. In the late 1940s, Hazel Scott became the first African-American woman to have her own television series; the show was canceled in 1950, after Scott had been brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee at the behest of U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy. (She was tried, but not charged.) Scott continued to speak out against McCarthyism, racism and segregation, refusing to perform in segregated theaters.
Scott lived in Paris from 1956 to 1967, and toured Europe steadily during those years. When she returned to the U.S., she picked up her performing career, with club dates and occasional television appearances up until her death in 1981.
She recorded several albums as a leader, including Relaxed Piano Moods with Charles Mingus (bass) and Max Roach (drums).
Originally recorded Nov. 26, 1979. Originally broadcast Oct. 12, 1980.