For immediate release
February 13, 1998
World Renowned Jazz Pianist and NPR Jazz Host Marian McPartland Celebrates 80th Birthday
WASHINGTON, DC - Jazz piano legend and host of NPR's Piano Jazz, Marian McPartland will celebrate her 80th birthday on March 21 in a live broadcast from New York City in a style that is only fitting for the dynamic pianist who stands in class by herself. One of the jazz's most beloved personalities, McPartland's birthday celebration will be hosted by her long-time friend Dr. Billy Taylor, host of NPR's Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center. He will be joined by such esteemed colleagues as vocalist Joe Williams, guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianists Tommy Flanagan and Ray Bryant, trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and Marian's longtime ensemble mates bassist Bill Crow and drummer Joe Morello, among others. As a testament to Marian's youthful spirit and unyielding dedication to the music, she will also be joined by pianists James Williams, Benny Green and Jacky Terrasson, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash.
Called "one of jazz's greatest treasures" by The Boston Herald and "a fine and particularly sensitive pianist" by The San Francisco Chronicle, Marian McPartland is indeed a renaissance woman who has managed to maintain her artistic integrity no matter what her endeavor - and there have been many. She is an accomplished performing and recording artist, having recorded 13 albums for Concord Records, and she is the 18-year host of the popular program, NPR's Piano Jazz, heard throughout the U.S. on over 250 NPR stations. Some of her guests have included Dave Brubeck, Stephen Sondheim, Barry Harris, Dr. Billy Taylor, Milt Hinton, Oscar Peterson and Wynton Marsalis. McPartland is also an admired composer, having penned compositions for Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan and Peggy Lee, as well as co-written with Johnny Mercer. To add to her credits, McPartland is the author of her own book, All In Good Time, and she starred in Jean Bach's Oscar-nominated film "A Great Day in Harlem", based on the famed 1958 jazz photograph by Art Kane for Esquire magazine.
Born in England near Windsor, Marian landed her first job touring the vaudeville circuit throughout England. During World War II, she joined the USO camp shows where she would eventually meet her husband and famed Chicago coronetist, Jimmy McPartland. In the early 50s she formed her own trio which would go on to play a ten-year stint at 52nd Street's famous Hickory House. In the 70s, McPartland founded her own jazz label, Halcyon, whose catalogue includes a standout release recorded in Argentina highlighting Marian along with piano giants Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines and Ellis Larkins. In recent years, the pianist's tour schedule has kept her quite busy. A special highlight of her 1997 tour included a private concert performance at the Supreme Court in April. In a unanimous vote, the "First Lady of Jazz" was chosen to perform for Chief Justices, Supreme Court officials and their friends and family (about 200 people). McPartland is the only female jazz artist to perform before this prestigious group. This past November, McPartland was lauded by her peers as the "Guest of Honor" at the 1997 Jazz Times Convention in New York.
Marian McPartland at 80: A Piano Jazz Celebration is co-produced by the John Schreiber Group, Festival Productions Inc., NPR, and WBGO-FM. The executive Producer of Piano Jazz is Shari Hutchinson. Funding for Piano Jazz is made possible by a grant from the Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund and through The Baldwin Piano and Organ Company. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Friends of Piano Jazz, NPR stations and NPR.
Photographs of Marian McPartland are available. Piano Jazz has its own home page on the World Wide Web, at http://www.scern.org/pj/ , or visit the NPR home page at http://www.npr.org. In addition, NPR distributes several top-quality jazz programs nationwide, including Jazz Profiles, JazzSet with Branford Marsalis, Billy Taylor's Jazz from the Kennedy Center, and Jazz from Lincoln Center.
National Public Radio, a membership organization of 591 public radio stations nationwide, produces and distributes the award-winning programs All Things Considered®, Talk of the Nation®, Weekend Edition® and NPR's Performance Today®.