Willie Ruff is a master of the bass and the French horn, which he reveals as a singularly beautiful jazz instrument. Trained as a classical musician, he studied with Paul Hindemith at the Yale School of Music and signed as first horn with the Tel Aviv Symphony. He went on to team up with pianist Dwike Mitchell, forming the Mitchell-Ruff duo and performing worldwide. In this 1991 Piano Jazz session, Ruff plays horn on "Prelude to a Kiss" and bass on "There is No Greater Love."
Vocalist Tierney Sutton is one of the hottest jazz artists working today. A six-time Grammy nominee, her album After Blue was nominated for "Best Jazz Vocal Album" in 2015. When Sutton came on Piano Jazz in 2004, she had just released her album Dancing in the Dark, a tribute to Frank Sinatra, which debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. With her accompanist Christian Jacobs, Sutton performs a set of standards, and she and McPartland team up to perform "Last Night When We Were Young."
Pianist Dwike Mitchell (1930 – 2013) joined bassist and French horn soloist Willie Ruff in 1955 to form the Mitchell-Ruff duo, which created a stir in New York nightclubs and across the globe as they gained recognition for their elegant sound. On this 1990 Piano Jazz, Mitchell demonstrates his formidable technique, touch, and feeling on "Lush Life." McPartland and Mitchell form their own duo to play "Don't Worry About Me."
Gerry Mulligan (1927 – 1996) was best known as a baritone saxophonist. He was pivotal in developing the West Coast jazz sound and was featured in big bands for years. He also composed and performed symphonic music and played piano. In this Piano Jazz session from 1987, Mulligan performs his original compositions "Ontet" and "Good Neighbor Thelonious." He and McPartland wrap up the program with a duet of "Blues Angst."
Pianist and vocalist Hazel Scott (June 11, 1920 – 1981) was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A child prodigy, she had a life-long career as a jazz artist on stage and screen, performing late into her life throughout the US and Europe. On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1980, Scott performs a set of standards including tunes by Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, and Ray Noble, and joins host Marian McPartland for a duet in "Fine and Dandy" and Mary Lou Williams' "Kool Bongo."
This week we're pleased to bring you a bonus episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz Shorts Podcast featuring vocalist Madeleine Peyroux recorded at the 2005 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Peyroux recently appeared on NPR's Song Travels and is a featured performer at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.
Trumpeter Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham (1905 – 1997) was known for his admirable technique and tone. His signature slight burr gave his solos an edge, but his approach was warm and elegant. He continued touring late into his life, with some of his best recordings from this later stage. On this 1992 Piano Jazz, Cheatham and McPartland play "Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On" and "I Double Dare You."
Pamela Hines is a pianist and composer whose forte is a complex and engaging take on the structural components of music within the jazz form. She brings nuances and impressive technical abilities to all the tunes she plays, and as a composer, she draws out a theme from every musician working with her. In this session from 2000, Hines performs her original tune "Porridge."
Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton (1908 – 2002) was one of the most influential figures in the annals of jazz. He made the vibes a vital voice in the arsenal of jazz instruments and gained international fame playing in Benny Goodman's small groups and leading his own orchestra. On this 1989 Piano Jazz, Hampton and McPartland duet on a set including "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Mack the Knife."
The music of pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a potent mixture of Cuban and American jazz. His style is both melodic and rhythmic, filled with exciting and intriguing influences. He plays everything from jazz to classical as well as music from his native land, Cuba. When he was a guest on Piano Jazz in 1995, he spoke with host McPartland through an interpreter and dazzled with pieces including "Con Alma" and "Straight No Chaser."