Vocalist Norah Jones has a smoky, sweet voice that makes standards sound not only revived, but completely new. Her style branches out into the realms of folk, country and western, soul, pop, and jazz. In 2003, the year she was McPartland's guest on Piano Jazz, she won her first Grammy Awards for her debut album, Come Away with Me. Jones brings her warm vocals to Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You," and McPartland and Jones kick off a "Beautiful Friendship."
Pianist Marty Napoleon (1921 – 2015) came from a musical family. He was the nephew of trumpeter and bandleader Phil Napoleon and brother of pianist Teddy Napoleon. In 1950 he joined his uncle's group, The Memphis Five, and later became a member of the Big Four, led by Charlie Ventura. He also played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, led his own trio, and performed as a soloist. On this 1992 Piano Jazz, Napoleon solos on his original "Over and Over," and McPartland joins for "All of Me."
Multiple Grammy Award-winning saxophonist David Sanchez weaves threads of Latin American and North American jazz into a colorful tapestry. His vast experience includes performances with Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D'Rivera, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Kenny Barron. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, bassist John Benitez, drummer Adam Cruz, and host McPartland join Sanchez in a quartet to perform "My Shining Hour" and "The Way You Look Tonight."
Critics hail pianist Marilyn Crispell as a "luminous presence at the forefront of creative music." Known for challenging compositions and improvisations, she plays free jazz with an evocative and disciplined style. She has performed on stages the world over and in 2005 received a Guggenheim Fellowship. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, Crispell solos her own composition "Fragments." She and McPartland conclude the hour with Monk's "Straight, No Chaser."
Pianist and composer Eric Reed began playing piano as a small child. He was only 18 when he played his first string of gigs with Wynton Marsalis, work that catapulted him to the forefront of jazz musicians. He has played with Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, and Joshua Redman, among others, and has established himself as a notable leader, producer, and educator. On this 1995 Piano Jazz, the then 24-year-old Reed's distinctive style is evident on a solo of "Cedar's Blues."
Pianist Jacky Terrasson was born in Berlin and raised in Paris. After moving to the US, he studied at Berklee College and went on to win the 1993 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition. He has toured internationally and collaborated with greats such as Ray Brown, Cassandra Wilson, and Ry Cooder. Terrasson demonstrates his extraordinary talents in this 1995 Piano Jazz session, playing "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "Oleo."
Bassist Steve Swallow and pianist Carla Bley are both acclaimed jazz composers and performers with international reputations. On this 1996 Piano Jazz, they team up to talk with McPartland about their combined repertoire of innovative music. Bley and Swallow kick off the program with a duet of Bley's composition "Major," McPartland joins Bley for a unique duet of "Chopsticks," and they close the show as a trio with Bley's "Ad Infinitum."
A true prodigy, pianist Aaron Parks was still in his teens when he was McPartland's guest in this 2001 session. That year he placed first in the fifth American Jazz Piano Competition, landing the Cole Porter Fellowship. He went on to place third in the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and has built a prolific career as a performer and recording artist. On this Piano Jazz, Parks performs Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets."
Valerie Capers is a fabulous pianist, composer, and educator. The first blind graduate from the Juilliard School of Music, she is blessed with a diverse piano style that combines elements of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans, with some Chopin thrown in. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, Capers shows off her classical chops when she solos on "It Could Happen to You." Then she and McPartland swing out on "Scrapple from the Apple."
Saxophonist and composer Benny Golson began studying piano as a child but was soon seduced by the tenor saxophone sounds he heard on jazz records. He gained recognition as a composer when he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band, and he went on to form The Jazztet, a hard-bop group, with trumpeter Art Farmer. Golson has devoted much of his time to jazz education and he continues to record and tour regularly. On this Piano Jazz from 2006, McPartland and bassist Rufus Reid join Golson to perform "Along Came Betty" and "I Remember Clifford."