Guitarist Kenny Burrell has been called a "cool, controlled romantic" whose textured playing is "subtle yet sensual, meditative, exultant, wry, and intimate." He may well be one of the most lyrical guitarists on the jazz scene. In fact, he was Duke Ellington's favorite improviser on the guitar. Burrell delights on this 1993 Piano Jazz with a solo of "'Round Midnight." He joins McPartland for "Don't Worry 'bout Me."
Skitch Henderson (1918 – 2005) worked as a piano soloist on Frank Sinatra's and Bing Crosby's radio shows. He began a long-time association with NBC in 1951, appearing as pianist, conductor, leader, and even comedian on The Tonight Show with host Steve Allen. In 1962, he began as conductor of the orchestra for The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson. On this 1992 episode of Piano Jazz, Henderson plays one of his own compositions, the theme song from the film Act 1.
Multi-instrumentalist Corky Hale has been blazing trails since her career began. She started piano at three, harp at eight, flute at ten, and cello at twelve. In the late 1950s, she became Mel Tormé's pianist and teamed up with Billie Holiday in Las Vegas and LA. On this Piano Jazz from 1993, Hale performs "Yesterdays" on the harp with Herb Michman joining on bass. She duets with McPartland on "Tea for Two."
Rio Clemente was born Rosario Clemente in Morristown, New Jersey. Known as the "Bishop of Jazz," he was educated at the Juilliard School of Music. His training in classical music paved the way for his vibrant career in jazz, playing with the likes of Bucky Pizzarelli, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, and Bobby Hackett, with whom he toured. On this 2004 Piano Jazz, Clemente performs his own composition "Allegria" and joins McPartland for "All the Things You Are."
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.